Drainage pipe placement likely source of leaks, architect says

Oct 13, 2021

A drainage pipe installed about a foot higher than it should have been is the likely culprit for leaks that continue to plague the new North Dartmouth library branch, the project architect told members of the Library Building Committee at their Oct. 13 meeting.

“We have a pretty good sense of what the problem is,’’  project architect Conrad Ello said. Relocating the drainage pipe and adding gutters should make “a huge difference,’’ he said.

Town Development Director Cody Haddad asked when the drainage pipe error was noticed.

“During construction we knew it was high,’’ Ello said. “We didn’t anticipate it would be as problematic as it turned out to be.’’

Ello said he “obviously didn’t expect that we were going to be in the situation where there’s going to be water in the building.’’

Committee members agreed to bring in a specialist in building design to provide a third party opinion and offer potential solutions.

Water issues have been an ongoing issue at the $10 million facility. Emotions ran high at the previous committee meeting, as members expressed frustration, sometimes heatedly, that leaks continue to occur.

The library has been beset by a variety of construction issues, which led its delayed opening last January. These issues included a leak in the basement

In early February, officials noted that water was still leaking into the basement. To remedy the situation, the committee unanimously approved an $8,770 proposal to fix the leaks along the building’s north wall.

At their Sept. 15 meeting, committee members agreed to seek an independent geotechnical engineer to look into the leaks.

But Haddad said at the Oct. 13 meeting that a better option would be a building design expert because the problem is “not a soil issue,’’ which is what the geotechnical engineer would specialize in.

A geotechnical study was completed before the project was started, Ello said.

Committee member Heidi Brooks expressed frustration that Project Manager Dan Pallotta of Norwell-based P3 did not attend the Oct. 13 meeting. 

At the previous meeting, Palotta said the problem was geotechnical in nature, meaning it is likely the result of soil and rock surrounding the building. 

“Dan so forcefully stated that a geotechnical evaluation would set us all straight,’’ she said. 

Instead, she said, the evaluation was already done. “Dan should have known that,’’ he said.

Ello said Parotta was suggesting that a new geotechnical specialist could serve as a “neutral party’’ to review the previous geotechnical findings.

The committee is scheduled to meet again Oct. 27.