Father Tolton Catholic High School will hold classes remotely for the remainder of the week after experiencing unanticipated water pressure issues following a routine cleaning of Shepard Water Tower.
After the water tower was drained Monday, Father Tolton Catholic High School sent out a text to parents announcing that classes were canceled Tuesday.
The school sent parents a follow-up email Tuesday informing them the school would remain closed the rest of the week because “our water pressure has fallen to the point where we are not able to operate the school at full capacity,” the email read.
Advanced Placement testing has continued as scheduled, and the office will remain open during normal hours.
Columbia Water and Light is working closely with the mechanical engineer and staff at Father Tolton Catholic High School, said Water and Light Engineering Supervisor Shawn Carrico.
He believed the problem wasn’t caused by the city, though. Father Tolton Catholic High School was the only one to have reported any problems, he said, and the city maintained the minimum water pressure level during the inspections.
Tolton President Daniel Everett said the school and city are troubleshooting to figure out what exactly is causing the problem.
Columbia has three towers that are cleaned and inspected regularly, one by one. Part of this process involves draining the tower. Having multiple towers allows for one to be taken out of service with no impact on water supply, Carrico said. Columbia Water and Light does not issue announcements about when the towers will be cleaned because it anticipates no change in service during the inspection.
“If the city did contribute to (the problem), we will work to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Carrico said.
Carrico said the city anticipates having Shepard Water Tower up and running again by late Friday.
“I think it’s fortunate for us that we were really prepared for online learning this year because of COVID, so it was fairly easy to switch over to online learning,” Everett said.
Father Tolton Catholic High School is in an area of some of the highest elevation in Columbia, which causes the area to have the lowest water pressure naturally, Carrico explained. Columbia Water and Light is working to create a separate high-pressure zone in that area to offset that. Carrico anticipates that project will hopefully begin in the next year.
“We’re looking to provide a higher level of service there,” he said.