From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Joe Napolitan):
During the Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District board meeting on Tuesday, May 4, Town Public Works Director Martin Schmidt shared increasing concerns with the town’s wastewater pumping.
“About a year ago, I came to the board with a report from an engineer from the company that sold us the pumps, Sulzer, and they were very confident in a replacement pump to be put into the lift stations because it would solve our net-pressure suction head issue,” Schmidt said. “It exacerbated issues down the line and acceler- ated some pump failures. That’s a big issue.”
In his agenda brief, Schmidt states that after the board approved pur- chasing a different pump that was recommended by the supplier, the newer pump exacerbated issues with other parts of the pumping train and inadvertently increased the speed of the pump failures at the lift stations.
“What we need is a system that will pump sewage and not destroy pumps at the rate they’re destroying them,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt explained that pumps should be lasting between 15 and 20 years with minor maintenance. Currently, some of them are lasting not even six months.
“Staff has been working on a solution for this from the very moment we realized the problem has been occurring,” he said. “We worked with them throughout the fall and into the winter and around Christmastime, we realized Sulzer wasn’t coming forward with any reasonable solutions.”
During a phone call the follow- ing day, Phillips explained several options for the emergency backups she referred to during the meeting.
“We do have an overflow vault that is located under the ground next to Pump Station 1, and that is for taking any kind of overflow that the pumps would not be able to handle,” she said. “That would get us maybe about 12 hours of time and if we needed to do more than that, we’ve identified a supplier of a bypass pump that we would utilize.”
Phillips explained that there are two pump stations with four pumps each in service at any given time. Typically 150,000 to 250,000 gallons per day of wastewater are being pumped. Both pump stations are suffering from issues.
“We also could utilize the existing old sewer lagoons that are down there, one of which is par- tially lined,” she said. “We could get several days of overflow by utilizing those old lagoons, and in the meantime would be requesting emergency assistance from Sulzer and other suppliers to ship us on an emergency basis additional pumps.”
“We are waiting on [the engineer’s] report. I anticipated it this afternoon; it will probably be here tomorrow,” said Schmidt during the meeting.