A new piece of equipment is needed for the Whistle Bend lift station just seven years after it was commissioned in 2013, and the new pump required is costing the City of Whitehorse $95,000.
At city council’s July 20 meeting, acting manager of water and waste services Arcadio Rodriguez brought forward a recommendation that council approve a change to the 2020 budget to include the pump repairs to the list of 2020 capital projects with the money coming out of the city’s contingency fund until potential gas tax funding comes through for the work.
Earlier this year one of two active pumps at the Whistle Bend lift station failed. That put the spare pump at the station into operation, leaving no spare available should there be any other issues.
If there was a situation where only one pump was operating at the station, it could result in sewage back up for area residents, though Rodriguez said there are some temporary measures that could be taken to prevent that.
Using spare pumps from other lift stations around town, though, is not an option.
As Rodriguez explained when questioned by Coun. Jan Stick, the pumps used at the Whistle Bend station are unique to that station and a spare pump from another lift station could not be used at the Whistle Bend lift station if something else went wrong.
Under a section of the city’s purchasing and sales policy that allows the city manager to approve capital expenses up to $100,000 in cases of emergency (such as those posing a threat to public health) and waiving of a competitive bidding process, the pump was ordered, though it is expected to take up to 10 weeks to arrive.
This marks the second replacement of a pump in a one-year period after the pump at the Marwell lift station failed in June 2019.
When that pump was replaced, it was noted during discussions that lift station pumps typically last about 15 years.
“This seems to be happening more and more,” Coun. Samson Hartland commented on the number of early pump failures facing the city.
The Whistle Bend situation was an unexpected rupture with the Marwell failure coming from premature wear on the propeller in the pump due to an excessive amount of sand and dirt in the system, Rodriguez said when Coun. Steve Roddick questioned the causes of the failures.
“As we continue to grow and add more remote pumping stations, water and waste services has started an investigation of options to implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) linked to SCADA,” Rodriguez stated in his report. “Such a system will aid in the assessment and maintenance of the pumps in the water distribution and wastewater collection systems. It will assist staff in anticipating repair and replacement, and will result in better forecasting in timely capital replacements.”
Council will vote on the budget change July 27.
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