What is the reason for the long half-pipe plastic culverts sitting around the construction site of Bishop Elementary in west Rochester? Is this some type of underground geothermal heating and cooling system?

Unfortunately, no. If the school is going to have that kind of high-tech heating and cooling system, it doesn't have anything to do with those plastic tubes.

I too was perplexed as to the purpose of those half tubes. But that's the wonderful thing about my knowledge -- if the answer isn't at hand, I know who is in the know.

In this case, that's Kevin Holm, an architect from the firm LHB, who is involved with the school district's 2019 voter-approved referendum. The Bishop rebuild is part of that referendum.

According to Holm, the objects "are for underground storm water control."

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He then elaborated:

"Most municipalities now control what can or must be done to rain water before it leaves your site," Holm said. "That system is designed to take all of the roof and parking lot rain water and hold it on site and let it drain slowly into the city system after the majority of sediment has settled out of it."

Holm said Longfellow Elementary on the other side of town, which is another referendum project, has a "slightly different underground system."

The new, yet-to-be-named new middle school and the newly opened Overland Elementary, by comparison, have "surface ponding." Holm says those ponds will empty within about 24 hours, depending on the amount of rain that falls in a storm.

So there you are -- the big black half-pipes are glorified rain gutters. Is it as flashy as a geothermal heating/cooling system or as mysterious as the catacombs beneath Paris? Probably not.

But at least I'll live to keep my Answer Man credentials yet another day.

Like rainwater, Answer Man's knowledge collects in large pools. Have a question? Send it to answerman@postbulletin.com.