Crews will begin drilling wells late this month from Maywood Hills Elementary School to a damaged tunnel-boring machine 340 feet below the ground after students and teachers start summer vacation.

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Crews will begin drilling wells late this month from Maywood Hills Elementary School to a damaged tunnel-boring machine 340 feet below the ground after students and teachers start summer vacation.

The wells will be used to remove water from the front end of the 17 ½-foot-wide machine that is boring part of a 13-mile tunnel that will carry treated sewage from the Brightwater sewage-treatment plant north of Woodinville to Puget Sound.

Removing water will allow workers to fix the machine at normal atmospheric pressure. Brightwater Project Manager Gunars Sreibers said Monday he expects the machine to resume operations in late August or September.

The tunneling problem may delay the plant’s scheduled 2011 opening and could increase the $1.8 billion cost. Six wells will be dug from a parking-lot access road at Maywood School.

Times staff and news services