LMC gets backed up


A. R. Broom

A City of Pittsburg Public Works Department worker tends to the clog which led to the brief closure of all bathrooms on campus the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, California. Photo by A.R. Broom

Perry Continente and A.R. Broom

A blocked sewer line caused a brief outage of bathroom and cafeteria services Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Los Medanos College. The cafeteria and all bathrooms connected to the school’s plumbing were temporarily unavailable, leaving a single port-a-potty the only restroom available for students until the block was resolved.

The block caused the outages around 12:30 p.m., and they lasted until just before 1 p.m., when the line was sufficiently cleared for services to resume. Facilities Manager Russ Holt spearheaded the effort and President Bob Kratochvil was present in parking lot A. Workers from the city of Pittsburg supervised the operation.

“The city got here within ten minutes,” said Holt, “that was a quick turnaround, I’m happy with that.”

The city sent two vacuum trucks to clear the line, one stationed in parking lot A near the entrance, and another stationed across the street near a housing complex.

The two trucks worked in tandem, using tubes inserted into the sewer line to remove the obstruction.

Vice President of Business and Administrative Services Alexander Porter sent an email to all LMC employees at 1:01 p.m. reporting that the problem had been solved.

“All campus bathrooms are now open,” said Porter in the email. “The City of Pittsburg and our campus facilities staff have corrected the sewer line issue.”

Although the blockage was cleared from LMC early, it proceeded down the pipe obstructing the line in the condo complex across the street. Despite LMC’s lines being cleared, Kratochvil and Holt remained on site.

The line was eventually cleared by the City and brought back to campus in the bed of a pickup truck. City officials along with Kratochvil and Holt inspected the blockage.

The blockage resembled a fire hose and consisted entirely of a single black plastic tube with a canvas-like texture, capped at both ends with metal attachments roughly six inches in diameter. It became tightly knotted and formed a large ball that ultimately obstructed the line.

The blockage was far too large to be flushed down a toilet or enter the line through any sort of drain.

“The pipes are around eight inches, flushed trash couldn’t block the pipe,” said Holt.

When asked if he knew how the obstruction entered the pipe, Holt stated, “that is something [facilities] are going to look into.”