Detroit does nothing as school fills up with water from broken pipes

Torrents of water have been spewing from broken pipes at the abandoned Detroit City High School for more than a week, flooding classrooms, hallways and the basement at an alarming rate.

Despite complaints, water continued to creep up the basement steps and rain down from pipes in the hallways Thursday, costing ratepayers and jeopardizing the fate of the building at 13141 Rosa Parks.  

Dan Sommers III and William Elling came across the flooding on Dec. 27 while exploring the abandoned DPS school, which closed in 2012 because of budget cuts.
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By Dan Sommers III
By Dan Sommers III

“We started to hear the sound of gushing water. We got a little bit closer and could smell the water,” Sommers said.

What they saw next was dumfounding. Numerous pipes were unleashing up to a gallon of water every few seconds – enough to fill an Olympic pool in less than a day. The basement was overflowing with water, crawling up the steps. Ice accumulated along the walls and ceiling.

Sommers called DWSD and said he was assured the problem would be immediately resolved.
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“It is very upsetting. The older part of the building is 97 years old and I’m afraid it might be completely ruined,” Sommers said.

By Dan Sommers III

Although the school has been closed for more than a year, DWSD never shut off the water – a widespread problem that is sapping ratepayers, causing safety hazards and rotting out abandoned structures, we reported last month.

DWSD officials couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Detroit’s budget cuts and years of incompetence have made it impossible for DWSD to keep pace with water shutoffs for inactive or unpaid accounts. In just the past year, the department has shed more than 300 jobs. And more layoffs are anticipated in the near future.
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Check back for updates on DWSD’s response.

Video by Dan Sommers III.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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