IRVING –– Irving city leaders are trying to solve a mystery regarding the building of their new $10 million library. The construction site filled with water, bringing work to a sudden stop. But no one seems to know where the water came from.
The surprise came almost two months ago.
Crews were digging out the basement of the new South Irving Library when the huge pit filled up with water. The contractor expected some groundwater, but nothing like that. So they stopped working.
"It's very difficult to try to build when you're in the middle of a flood underneath the property," said Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.
The city started investigating, suspecting a water main leak. But they couldn't find any compromised pipes. Then, they took a look at Millennium Fountain, across the street from the work site. "We did turn it off for about ten days and the fountain didn't drain down," said Casey Tate, Irving’s Capital Improvement Director. "So we know it's not the fountain."
The next possible culprit was a creek-fed pond at Centennial Park, a mere 100 yards from the construction site.
"We did lower the level of the pond by about four feet for two weeks, to try to test to see if the water in the hold actually went down," said Tate. "It actually rose several inches."
City leaders now believe it's simply groundwater. But they can't explain why there's so much of it. They've hired an engineer to figure out a way to seal off the basement, so construction can resume.
Building a library without a basement would cost even more.
"You never want to spend more money than you have to," said the mayor. "And I always like things being built in a short period of time and for less than the amount we budgeted. And doing the exact opposite of that is never our goal."
City officials spent $5,000 on the engineer, and admit the city's costs could likely rise as a result of the delay.