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Stink rises over FHS stadium restrooms

Farragut High School is getting new stadium seating for the 2008 football season, but football fans may find themselves stuck with problem toilets.

According to FHS principal Michael Reynolds, the stadium’s toilets have had a problem handling the volume generated at home football games, particularly during halftime.

In the women’s restroom, Ads fans sometimes find themselves walking through sewage overflowing from the toilets.

“The problem is, for some reason, the restrooms can not handle the flow; I suppose due to the volume during halftime of our big games, so our women’s restrooms overflow,” Reynolds said.

“We’ve had the line scoped, so it’s not an obstruction. It’s just that it can’t handle the volume,” he added.

The problem has occurred in the men’s restroom, but has never happened in the guest and baseball field restrooms, from which the sewage has to be pumped uphill.

“As long as the pump is running, it’s fine,” Reynolds said with a laugh.

Reynolds also said the size of the guest restrooms may be a factor to its superior flow performance: they are much smaller, able to handle only “one at a time.”

“Our concern is, you’ve got a nice, new stadium and old plumbing, and that’s a health condition and is a safety issue, too,” Reynolds said.

Ronnie Nease, director of environmental health for the Knox County health department, said toilets with problems such as these might need to be closed.

“From a health standpoint, if they overflow, they would need to be shut down,” he said, adding that the Health Department has never received complaints about the toilets.

He said Reynolds should press Knox County schools to fix the problem.

“That’s something [Reynolds] and the school system should take up. If he’s got a problem, he should make them aware of it,” Nease said.

According to Reynolds, FHS has tried to fix the toilets for at least four years.

“You turn in work orders, and they come in on Monday, and because the volume is not there, everything is fine,” Reynolds said.

Part of the problem, he added, is that no one knows how or where the stadium plumbing ties in to a main line.

“Nobody seems to know or have the plans for how the plumbing is tied in to the main sewage system … because it was built when the school was opened, mid-’70s, and tracking down anybody who has knowledge of where those lines go or how they tie in is difficult,” Reynolds said.

“But since we’re on a hill, we think that there’s a main line around Kingston Pike somewhere; it would make sense to tie in to that,” he added.

Calls to First Utility District about the location of the tie-in were not returned.

Bathroom updates were never part of the stadium renovation plan approved by the School Board.

“We’ve really tried to get something done about it for the last four years, and there’s just money for the stadium renovation but not for doing anything with the structures underneath or the restrooms,” Reynolds said.

“They approved [funding] for stadium [renovation] only,” he added, stating that 6th District School Board member Thomas Deakins has expressed concern about the restrooms.

“In regard to the restrooms, those restrooms have been around as long as the stadium … I’m not exactly sure what the solution is, but I’m sure it would be one we have to look at in the coming year and put in our capital plan.

“It looks like something that will require major work and is not a quick fix by any means,” Deakins said in a phone message.

Reynolds estimated, depending on the plumbing structure beneath the stadium and where the plumbing ties in, the cost of restroom renovation could be from “a few thousand dollars to several thousand.”

The plan at this point, Reynolds said, is to install additional port-a-potties to handle the crowds at football games.

“But that is still a temporary solution,” he said.

Knox County Schools spokesman Russ Oaks said, “We are replacing the stadium and … that is about a million dollar project … the plan is to augment those [restrooms] on game days with portable toilets.”

Oaks added the stadium renovation had top priority because of life-threatening concerns about the safety of the concrete structure.

“With our stadium renovations, what we’re looking at is life safety issues and money is so tight, we are trying to make sure that our stadiums are structurally sound and the toilets generally don’t figure into those projects,” Oaks said.

Besides improving the plumbing, any permanent solutions would involve adding additional stalls to bring the restrooms up to date with Knox County codes.

“If you were to tear down the old ones and build back, you would … have to have about 40, 46 water closets or so,” Reynolds said.

“That is a substantial overhaul of what we have now,” Reynolds said.

“The newer codes do require quite a bit of new capacity,” said Roy Braden, Knox County Code Administration.

For men, the current code requires one toilet per 75 people for the first 1,500 people. For women, the code requires one toilet per 40 people for the first 1,500.

For the first 3,000 people alone, assuming a 50-50 split among male and female attendees, FHS would need 20 toilets for men, 38 for women, eight male sinks and 10 female sinks.

If urinals were substituted for the maximum allowance of two-thirds of the toilets, the numbers would be 13 urinals and seven toilets for men.

Farragut High School’s football stadium seats 6,000.

“That’s a lot of commodes,” Braden said.

According to Reynolds and Braden, Hardin Valley Academy had to file for a variance from the code, which will allow them to open up interior school restrooms during games.

“In a high school situation, you’re only using [the stadium restrooms] six times a year,” Braden said.


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