Lift Stations Back to Normal Operation

Following a sewer emergency a week-and-a-half ago, all six motors from Valley City lift stations are installed and the crank is back to normal operating procedures.

The morning of Friday, Aug. 17, residents of Valley City were asked to conserve water as a precautionary measure when lift station motors failed, causing raw sewage to be dumped into the Sheyenne River.

“With the different inflows in the sewer system throughout the year, we kind of have seasons just like everything else,” Schelkoph said.

During heavy rain events and flood runoff, “that’s when all three sets of these two motors are running and pumping stuff up to the lagoon,” Schelkoph said.

That’s a very, very short period of time when this happens, typically only one or two weeks out of the year.

Thursday last week, crews were able to put in the last set of motors, which brings the last master lift station back to normal.

Early Friday morning during routine maintenance, an annual clean out of the wet well, the rope on the plug on the wet well failed, causing uncontrolled flooding of the well due to the intense pressure.

When sewage breached containment of the wet well, it filled the lift station, causing the motors to fail.

The wet well is a big reservoir used before the pumps take water and put into the lagoon system.

The wet well gets debris and gravel in the bottom and gets so full that it gets close to the motors in the pumps.

To avoid breaking the motor, crews periodically shut the sewer system down for maintenance.

Maintenance is typically done between the hours of midnight to 6 a.m., when sewer use was limited.

Schelkoph said crews were very quick to respond.

“City crews worked hard to make this potential tragedy something that was managed and controlled and prevented a lot of property damage,” Schelkoph said adding that without such prompt work, “we would have had hundred of homes with sewer (water) in their basement.”

The city sent the motors to be repaired at Jemco, a motor repair company out of West Fargo.

“They totally rebuilt these motors for us in record time, I thought,” Schelkoph said. “They really mitigated the time we spent putting raw sewage in the river.”

Less than 30 hours after the incident started, the first motor was already being installed.

The afternoon of Monday, Aug. 20, the water restriction was lifted after the second set of motors were installed.

“That’s when we had full capability of that plant again with contingencies,” Schelkoph said.

Repairs came to about $6,000 to $7,000, which is covered by insurance.
Schelkoph said the price was reasonable and he couldn’t be happier with the city’s service with Jemco.