When it rains it pours

This sink hole on Jackson St. made its way to the surface and needed fixed.

This sink hole on Jackson St. made its way to the surface and needed fixed.

By Marcie Klomp

All the rain this spring has been a blessing in a way for the City of Lime Springs. Maintenance Director Casey Sebastian has been telling council the water and sewer system has major leaks and other problems. The recent wet weather brought some of those problems to the surface . . . or at least into the basements of some residents in the east part of town.

During dry weather last year it was hard to find leaks because water just soaked into the ground. With the deluge of rain in March-April-May Sebastian has found areas of interest.

The numbers just don’t add up. What goes out of the water tower should equal the amount of water being measured on water meters around town. Sebastian has said Cresco’s numbers are pretty close. Last month the county seat was at 97 percent accountability (knowing where all the water was going).

He explained to council at the May 7 meeting, “Lime Springs’ accountability has been at 29-30 percent since before I came here.” Part of the problem is the town was pumping about 125,000 gallons of water a day, but only about a third of that was being properly metered. That means new water meters. Many of the meters in town are old and are not registering the proper amount of water usage.

Another problem is that water was leaking somewhere.

It may look like Sebastian enjoys digging up streets and boulevards, but he is just doing his job.

Dig #1: After 3.5 inches of rain on April 9, basements in east Lime Springs were backing up sewer water. After a camera was used in the pipes, a leak was found, south of the Kevin Bill residence.

In that instance, a 30-year-old problem was discovered, where storm water was flowing into the sanitary sewer. “That resulted in the excavator coming and tackling the problem that day. The infiltration was because of an improper installation 30 years ago,” Sebastian said. He figured that kept about 160,000 gallons of water from going into the sewer plant.

George Tekippe, City Engineer suggested to council, “It was a service line. It is the responsibility of the home owner, even at this time.”

“I don’t know where the leaks are until they show up,” the maintenance director added. “A percentage of the town each year should be camera-ed. We’re doing it little by little, but can’t find them all.”

 

Dig #2: A large water leak was found near the house of the late Anna May Davis. After the first phase of the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) from 30 years ago, a water line was abandoned but never capped off.

That was a huge find! “We were pumping 120,000 gallons of water per day. After that was shut off, it was 75,000 gallons of water per day,” Sebastian said.

Although that was a big find, there are still errors out there. Tekippe stated, “You are losing a lot of water through the meter. People use a lot more water than 30 gallons per person per day. You are losing about half of what is being metered.” The average used by person is 60 gallons per day. May 13 the number was at 35 gallons per person.

Dig #3: Over the weekend of April 27, a sink hole was found on Jackson St., in front of the Arnie Bakken/Bruce Leverson homes. Being close to the highest point in town, the sewer line is buried 18-19 feet deep.

Sebastian later explained, “There was a hole in the tile at the sewer flange (where two tiles meet). Dirt and gravel fell into the sewer pipe.” The pipe was packed and had to be jet sprayed and vacuumed out from Earl Walker to Jerry Johnson’s residences.

The same thing happened in the same spot about three years ago, although the problem started before that. Three years ago, apparently the hole was filled with more dirt and rock, which did not solve the problem.

Lime Springs has a long row to hoe to get to where it should be in regards to water and sewer. Besides leaks in water and sewer mains, the two wells are in the process of being updated.

Tekippe said the west well should be completely done by June 1, then work can begin on the east well. Although the cost of fixing wells will be expensive, that is a drop in the bucket compared with having to update the lagoon, which could be over a $2 million project.

In the meantime, a lift pump failed, and a new one has been ordered at a cost of $10,000-12,000.

Because of the need to update, water rates are raising 20 percent effective July 2013. City Clerk Carla Moser explained, “We’re not the only ones doing this. I checked with other towns and just about every single one is increasing. Sewer and water need to be self-sustaining to get a loan.”

Water and sewer is an ongoing issue in any town and especially in Lime Springs. Look for more on this in upcoming issues.

 

 

 

 

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