Sunday, November 25, 2007

CU buys pumps to avoid dry patches brings you the following news from Springfield, Missouri:

With its lakes dwindling again, City Utilities has bought the rented pumps that kept the city's reservoirs from dropping dangerously low during last year's record-breaking drought.

Gary Gibson, CU's manager of distribution, said the utility has spent $880,000 to buy and reinstall the floating pump system at Stockton Lake.
The three floating pumps and two larger shore-mounted pumps can deliver up to 14 million gallons a day to CU's Fellows Lake north of Springfield. Components of the floating system will arrive at Stockton Lake on Monday.

"This gives us some time to look at what our permanent pump system should be," Gibson said.
If bad weather doesn't delay the installation, the pumps could begin refilling Fellows Lake by the end of December.

CU normally turns on its Stockton pumps when its two storage lakes — Fellows and McDaniel — drop to 75 percent of capacity.

Last week the lake storage levels were at 77 percent and dropping about 1 percent every five days due to lack of rainfall and steady demand by CU water customers. CU was forced to rent a temporary system last year when all three of the utility's massive 6-ton submerged pumps failed at the Stockton pumping facility.

The pumps, manufactured by Vermont-based Hayward-Tyler Inc., were repeatedly repaired, but failed again in recent months and were sent back for another round of repairs. Gibson said Hayward-Tyler has fixed one of the $500,000 pumps, and CU plans to install it. "But we've decided to hold off on repairing the other two for now," he said. "Their general manager will be here in December to meet with us about the pumps and also about what their commitment level is to keeping these pumps running."

Vince Conte, Hayward-Tyler general manager, declined to talk about the December meeting or about the performance of his company's pumps. He referred all questions about the pumps to CU. Gibson said CU might consider reinstalling the Hayward-Tyler pumps if the company would guarantee the repairs and if there were reason to believe the pumps would perform reliably.
"But based on last year's issues, we have a lot of questions about that," Gibson said.

It costs CU $25,000 just to pull one of the pumps from its underwater tube, and repairs have been averaging about $150,000 each, Gibson said.

Hayward Tyler has made some of the repairs under warranty, but not all of them. If CU and Hayward-Tyler decide to part ways over the latest pump failures, Gibson said, the utility might seek some amount of financial compensation. He declined to say how much. "If it gets to that point, that's something the lawyers will have to negotiate," he said.

The latest pump failures forced CU to contemplate building a more reliable system. CU hired Texas engineering company Freese and Nichols for $118,000 to evaluate the cost and feasibility of three options. One would use parts from the rented system that has now been purchased. It would put smaller pumps into the submerged pipes at Stockton and push water up to large shore-mounted pumps.

Another idea involves drilling a vertical well on shore and then angling the hole to the lake.
"It's much easier to pump water vertically like that, and since the pump is on land it would be easier to service and maintain," Gibson said.

A third concept would involve building a concrete intake structure in the lake, with a pump inside that would deliver water to shore. "Of course with in-water construction, your costs go up," he said. "That's what Freese and Nichols will be looking at." The company has until mid-February to deliver its report.

Without any cost estimates or a final decision on the Hayward-Tyler pumps, Gibson said it's too soon to say whether the pump issues might increase CU water customers' bills. The utility just raised water rates in October, and another is planned for October next year to help pay for water system improvements.

Whether those higher rates are enough to absorb a new Stockton Lake pumping system remains unknown. Gibson said the pump problems have served as an eye-opener.
"Water is a resource we can't take for granted, as we found out last year with the drought," he said. "I'd encourage everyone to do what you can to conserve water when you can."

Berlin Technologies

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