City fixes pumps at sewer plant
A pump failure at the Baldwin City wastewater treatment plant late last Monday night caused some untreated sewage to overflow into Tauy Creek. However, city officials were able to use portable pumps to keep the plant operating and said the overflow was "no worse than after a hard rain."
The raw water waste pump that failed is used to pump untreated sewage from sewer lines into the oxidation basin. City utility director Terry McKinney said the plant operator noticed the pump was not working and alerted city officials. The back-up raw water waste pump also was not working. Upon further inspection, city officials discovered two other pumps in other parts of the wastewater treatment plant had failed.
"The operator had not made us aware of the problems," McKinney said. "We did have an occurrence at the wastewater treatment plant last week. The city did have a little discharge into Tauy Creek. The cause of the discharge was caused by raw water waste pumps failing."
The city rented a 6-inch, portable gas pump to temporarily do the work, and staffed it 24 hours a day while the two raw water waste pumps were being repaired in the Kansas City area. One of those pumps was reinstalled on Thursday.
"We've been doing fine ever since," McKinney said. "Within a week we should have the back-ups fixed and in place."
A sludge return pump that was not working also was taken to be repaired.
"We also found we had some other pump problems that do not affect day to day operations, but over a long period of time could have," McKinney said.
A replacement for a fourth pump that city officials did not know had failed had been ordered in early October and was delivered and installed this week. Bill Winegar, assistant utility director, said city officials knew the pump that moves sludge from the plant's clarifiers into a 200,000-gallon digester needed to be replaced, but not that it had failed.
"We knew the pump was bad, but we didn't know it had quit working," Winegar said.
City Administrator Larry Paine said the problems caused by the pump failures was confined to the sewer plant and did not affect residences or businesses. He said the problems appeared to be caused by a lack of maintenance at the plant and that personnel issues are being reviewed.
McKinney said the incident will be reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. However, he said the overflow caused by the pump failure was similar to an overflow caused by hard rain which he said can happen a few times a year.
The city is expecting a report this month from BG Consultants, an engineering firm, about the future needs of the treatment plant. The city recently placed a moratorium on applications for new subdivisions, because the number of residences platted in existing subdivisions is expected to fill the capacity of the sewer plant. City officials expect to expand the treatment plant, based on the report, by 2003.