MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A concerned tipster contacted FOX 5 DC to investigate an unlicensed employee who did work at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Montgomery County – without a permit.
According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the construction work was done in early August.
The department of permitting services says they were notified on September 15th that a plumber at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School performed without permits. An inspector visited the site the same day and discovered two bathrooms were built in the athletic wing of the property without permits.
They issued notices of violations and when they visited the school again one week later on September 22nd, a civil citation was issued to the property owner.
WSSC Water did an investigation and also sent notices of violations to the plumber and school.
Luckily no one was hurt, but Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich says this could have turned into a dangerous situation.
He adds it is important people go through the proper permitting process to avoid any health and safety concerns.
"I know some of the people involved in the school and I don’t understand if they made a conscious decision to try to bypass the approval process or whether they assumed that the person who was hired was going to go through the approval process. I don’t know what was in their heads, but it was a bit surprising because it’s not a small school and it’s not a tiny project," said Elrich.
The tipster who is working closely with the situation tells FOX 5 the employee attached the sewage drain to the storm drain.
The school allegedly found out about the messy mishap during a rainstorm when water came running into the bathrooms.
They then discovered that sewage leaked into local waterways – potentially nearby Lake Hallowell – which is only three minutes away from the school.
Our Lady of Good Counsel High School sent FOX 5 this statement via e-mail:
"The school takes any issue like this very seriously. Once we became aware of this situation, we responded quickly to remedy the problem. We are in close contact with all of the relevant regulatory entities to ensure we are in strict compliance in the future.
We have also instituted new internal safeguards to ensure that we continue to adhere to the highest operational standards, consistent with our long history of supporting our students, staff and the communities we serve."
"At the end of the day, this is going to turn out to be more expensive for them than if they had done it the right way in the first place," said Elrich. "If the tipster hadn’t called in, this may as well have had the implication that had the days or weeks or so that it took to correct and stop this so I do appreciate the tipster for bringing that to everybody’s attention."