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Clogged sewer pipes shut down Government Center cafe for two days, official says

Take a quick tour of the 47 year old Government Center building

The lack of a building-wide sprinkler system, HVAC issues and diminishing space for city officials and workers to do their jobs are just a few of the problems running through the Columbus Consolidated Government's 12-story Government Center
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The lack of a building-wide sprinkler system, HVAC issues and diminishing space for city officials and workers to do their jobs are just a few of the problems running through the Columbus Consolidated Government's 12-story Government Center

While city officials scramble to repair four damaged courtrooms in the Columbus Government Center tower, a work crew was busy last week repairing some faulty sewer pipes on the ground floor of the 100 10th St. building.

The crew worked through the weekend but still had to shut down Chester’s Cafe for two days before the eatery was allowed to re-open on Wednesday, said Pat Biegler, director of Public Works for the Columbus Consolidated Government.

The city has faced problems with sewage backing up on the ground floor in the toilets and at the restaurant. Workers decided to take a hard look at the problem after the pipes were repeatedly cleaned but they continued to fail. The sewer pipes in the 47-year-old building were installed at 90-degree angles with many clumped together.

“Anything can hang up in there,” she said. “We decided rather than to continue to have the problems, we’re going to go ahead and replace all of that so the flow comes in an angle and it doesn’t have as many problems with backups.”

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said Monday afternoon the busted pipe and resultant flooding of areas of the Columbus Government Center are related to the age of the building, and related structural issues.

Workers shut down the toilets, repaired the pipes and cleaned up the area.

“It just wasn’t functioning the way it was suppose to so it was down a couple of days,” she said.

The same sewer pipes with the 90-degree angle wouldn’t meet codes now.

“Today’s code calls for a new angle, not a 90 for a reason,” she said. “Things just catch on corners and hang up just a little bit and the next thing comes from another area of the pipe. You know you got a big blockage. We wanted to eliminate that problem.”

The sewer pipes are just one of many systems that have failed in the building. Four court rooms have been shutdown since multiple flooding events left damaged carpet in courtrooms and offices but no structural damage. The city is also looking at mechanical, electrical and fire safety equipment.

The Muscogee County court system has been in a state of disarray and flux because of flooding in the Columbus Government Center on June 18. Take a behind-the-scenes- tour to see what progress, if any, has been made to fix the situation.

Last month, there were two minor leaks on the fifth and sixth floors, City Manager Isaiah Hugley told Columbus Council.

“It was not a flood,” he said. “It was a leak in two places after changing parts on 187 toilets through the weekend.”

You have to pick your battles in the 12-story building. With more than 15 toilets on each floor, that’s a lot of sewage flowing in the building. Let’s hope the new parts and easier flowing pipes reduce leaks and backups in the system.

If funds are approved for the courtroom repairs later this month, officials hope to get the building back in order by February 2019.

The recent problems in the pipes and toilets might raise even more concerns on upper floors without damage. The entire building is on borrowed time.

If you’ve seen something that needs attention, give me a call at 706-571-8576.

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