The Case of the Sloshy Beer Vault
From Stefanie B., Anderson Township:
“I work downtown at a county office every Wednesday. I park at the Parkhaus garage near the corner of Sycamore & Reading (formerly the Alms & Doepke garage). For the past couple months, I've noticed a pipe with water running out of it at the entrance (off Sycamore). The water isn't just a trickle, it's a heavy stream which causes pooling in about an 8-10 ft. area. The area has now been wet so long that there is algae growing. The area is slippery and a nuisance for anyone who has to walk through. Do you know from where the water is coming and why? Could you find out?”
This issue from Stefanie had a uniquely Cincinnati source. The Parkhaus garage is a county-owned parking garage on Sycamore Street a block north of Central Parkway. The water she described is shown running in the photos above (taken before I talked to the County). The water was coming up the pipe from underground. It was going down the sidewalk to a sewer about a block away.
Jim Morgan, Project Manager, Parking and Stadia for Hamilton County, responded quickly to the City Ombudsman query. Morgan explained that there is an old beer vault, previously used to store kegs of beer, under the Parkhaus Garage. The old beer vault has standing groundwater that the County was pumping out to complete required corrosion testing on the steel beams under the garage. They have been pumping the water onto the sidewalk for three months.
Importantly, Morgan explained that it is all standing groundwater. The County had the water tested to ensure that it was not City water. So, he asserted that there is no wasted water. There is no leak in existing plumbing.
The County stopped the flow of the water onto the sidewalk on Friday, October 19. There is no more water running down the sidewalk, as seen below. Morgan indicated that the current plan is to try to reconnect the old sump pump. Morgan said that they will clean the algae from the sidewalk.
Morgan indicated that it has been a unique problem for him, as he oversees parking and the stadiums for the county. While this issue may be unique to his job, a problem with old beer vaults seems like a quintessential Cincinnati problem.
Thank you to Stefanie B. for the question and to Jim Morgan for the quick response.
What do you think readers – what other stories have you heard about Cincinnati’s brewing heritage causing problems with new buildings?