CELORON - Upkeep is always important, but when a region's sanitation is at stake, it becomes paramount.
The South and Center Sewer District recently replaced an antiquated generator and is currently working to reinforce compromised sewage pipes well before any type of failure occurs.
According to Randy Peterson, South and Center Sewer District director, the district believes it is important to make investments which will help to ensure that all customers of the district always receive the same uninterrupted service of the highest quality.
Pictured above shows the sewer pipe reinforcement process. Pictured at right shows the installation of a new generator.
Additionally, employees Tom Walsh and Bryan Wilson explained the need, implementation and some of the interesting science that keeps the sewer district firing on all cylinders.
According to Wilson, the generator which the district used to own was installed in the early 1970s, and reached a point where it simply wasn't as reliable as a generator needs to be.
"It was getting to the point where it just wasn't reliable enough," said Wilson. "It didn't always start when we lost utility power, and replacement parts were beginning to become unavailable. When you run a waste water treatment plant, not having power just isn't an option."
Wilson said the project to install a new generator began two years ago. The sewer district sent out a bid for both the generator and the installation work. Removing the old generator and installing the new one took a bit of creativity, as the old generator was on the second floor of the building, and the new one needed to be installed in the same place. The new generator is approximately 4 tons, and the old one was even larger.
"We have a 10,000-gallon diesel fuel cell under the parking lot that gets pumped up here, so this is where it needed to go," said Wilson. "Although we don't normally encounter emergencies where the generator would need to run for an extended amount of time, we still need to be prepared, because it can happen at any point, no matter how unlikely. Just because the power is out, it doesn't mean that water stops moving."
In addition to added reliability, the new generator is vastly more efficient than the old one, which will help the district to save on electricity and fuel costs.
"On average, the district loses power about four to six times a year, depending on factors such as how (inclement) the weather is," said Walsh. "Six years ago when the northeast had that power grid failure, the generator ran for about four days. You always hope nothing like that can ever happen again, but because it can, it is essential to be prepared."
Both Walsh and Wilson quipped about the treatment center losing power last Sunday during a brief, 90-minute loss of power in Jamestown, because the old generator was already removed, but the new generator wasn't fully installed yet. Thankfully, the center installed a temporary generator outside during the transition period, and as soon as the power went out, the temporary generator kicked on.
"That's the reason you always need to have a backup plan," said Walsh. "You just never know when these things are going to happen."
The new generator will be completely up and running by the end of July, according to Wilson.
SEWER PIPE REINFORCEMENT
In the past five years, the South and Center Sewer District has been working on a project where it snakes a camera through all of the pipes it uses to help identify areas that might have compromised structural integrity.
That project is now approximately 90 percent complete, and pipes that need to be mended have been identified. However, instead of digging up the damaged pipes and replacing them, the district is using technology which is much less invasive to repair them.
"CIPP - cast in place pipeline - is what the technology is called," said Wilson. "The material is kept in a refrigerated truck, and is delivered inside out. Imagine a giant tube sock with epoxy on the inside - that's a good visualization of what this stuff is like. The material is run through the compromised pipe, and then blown up like a balloon. Once it is contoured to the compromised pipe, steam gets pumped through it, which activates the epoxy. By the time it's done cooking, the material is just as hard and durable as PVC pipe."
According to Walsh, CIPP is the preferred method of fixing damaged pipes, because it is faster, less expensive and far less invasive than digging up old pipe and replacing it.
"More or less what they're doing is casting a PVC pipe from the inside of the existing pipe," said Wilson.