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Numerous water leaks found in state Capitol buildings

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The record-setting rainfall we had in October is causing some big problems in buildings at the state Capitol.

More than 40 leaks have been discovered at numerous buildings on campus.

Now, one state project has already been cancelled so that money can be used to make some repairs.

“The state Capitol is really a treasure, a national treasure, and surely a state treasure,” said Kris Tucker in Olympia.

Around Washington’s Capitol, 13 buildings are dealing with a leaky problem and some of those buildings are nearly 90 years old.

“I would say that this is probably among the worst that we’ve seen,” said Jim Erskine, a spokesman for the Department of Enterprise Services, which is responsible for the maintenance of the state buildings.

In the last few weeks, Erskine said they’ve had to deal with more than 40 leaks on campus.

“This is obviously sort of a Band-Aid fix until we can get an actual permanent fix,” added Erskine.

They set up trash cans and plastic tarps to try and catch some of the water seeping in, but that water is also creating problems to the ceiling in one building.

“We’ve got saturated ceilings tiles that are actually falling and that also poses a risk to people who are working here,” said Erskine.

Outside the Cherberg Building, a trench has been dug up to try and help move falling water away from the building. A failed drainage system around the foundation has caused a sinkhole to open up and the saturated ground is pushing up against the foundation, causing cracks on the inside.

“This is really critical that we repair these as soon as we can. We want to protect, certainly, these older buildings and the historic fabric, but more importantly we have to protect the structural integrity of the building," said Erskine.

Inside the basement of the Cherberg Building is where the IT Department is located, and just this week they came to work to find some flooding inside.

Maintenance crews are trying to stay on top of all the leaks, and trying to figure out where the water is coming from, but it isn’t easy.

“Leaks can be anywhere and can be very hard to identify the source and that moisture can travel,” said Erskine.

Some repairs are already being made with money that was planned to upgrade Sylvester Park, down the street.

Work to improve the turf, irrigation system and lighting at the park have been called off.

“We are a state agency and we’ll use some of the money we have but we’ll likely have to ask for additional money from the 2017 Legislature for some additional funds,” added Erskine.

Taxpayers know all these repairs need to be done.

“They are going to have to fix the leaks because you can’t just have water streaming down, that will only cause more problems,” said Jane Roalkvam, who lives in Olympia.

“Unfortunately, leaks happen, water is really hard on historic buildings and I don’t know that there’s anyway that even a homeowner can anticipate all the leaks. It’s really disappointing that there are leaks, but there are leaks,” said Tucker.

Fixing all the leaks will take months, and the state is bringing in an outside consultant who knows how to deal with historic buildings to investigate. They will determine how much work needs to be done and just how much all the repairs will cost.