Wastewater Operations Analysis & Budgeting

February 15, 2011

The Prattville Water Works Board provided information to the City of Prattville showing that sewer charges are pro-rated from April to September (183 days) at a rate of $5,972 per day and during the months of October through March (182 days), sewer rates are charged at $7,029 per day. The Finance Department received checks for sewer revenues totaling $2,161,180 during fiscal year 2009-2010. The actual expense incurred to operate the Wastewater Department during the same period was $2,658,350.09, at a rate of $7,283.15 per day. For fiscal year 2009-2010, the City of Prattville Wastewater Department realized an operating shortfall of $497,170.

The Finance Department shows Wastewater debt due to state revolving fund loans. These loans, in the amount of $352,321, were taken to cover the cost of sewer improvements. There are also vehicle maintenance expenses and some equipment leases during that time period in the amount of $140,000. These loans and expenses bring the Wastewater revenue shortfall to a total of $989,491 for last fiscal year.

wastewater-pie-chart
(Click for larger view )

The equipment, at both the Autauga Creek and Pine Creek Treatment Facilities, has been in place, running 24 hours a day for 30 years. In a perfect world, equipment would have been replaced one piece at a time starting about 15 years ago. That has not happened. Over the last few years, most of the parts and equipment placed in Wastewater’s proposed budget were actually removed before the final submission to City Council for approval. This past year, every item was cut from the package that was submitted to the City Council.

The age of the system has the city using 30-year-old technology which is less efficient than current systems. Parts are more expensive and harder to find should we experience a catastrophic failure at one or both plants.

It is the recommendation of this administration that sewer rates be raised to compensate for the operating shortfall and that we commence efforts to start replacing systems in stages. The following equipment would be an effective start to that process:

1. Flygt 3202 Pump and Piping. This is a raw sewage pump for Autauga Creek Treatment Facility. This plant is supposed to have three (3) raw sewage pumps. The pump in the 3rd slot is not operational. This purchase would replace that non-functioning system. The cost for this item is $38,000. Installation and parts for retrofit would cost an additional $2-3,000.

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The pump in the foreground is the inoperable pump. You can see the age of that system in
comparison to the more modern pumps in the background.

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Another angle showing the newer pumps more clearly. The newer pumps do not require a drive shaft as is clearly shown here.

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This is the motor that drives the old inoperable pump shown in the photos above. Working on the newer pumps
only requires crews to remove the yellow plate on the floor and raise it up through the opening. This is not
possible with the system that needs replacing. It requires staff to completely disassemble the unit and platform.

2. Screening Auger. Wastewater is currently using a conveyor belt system that was installed in 1990. It is outside, exposed to the weather. On windy days, debris can be blown off the belt and all over the plant grounds. The screening auger is enclosed, made of stainless steel which will withstand the elements, and will transport that debris through the plant to the dumpster. This item costs no more than $20,000. (This item’s price changes based on the cost of stainless steel on the day you order.)

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Conveyor Belt, unenclosed, out in the elements.

 

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Another angle.

 

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Showing debris removed during one phase of sewage treatment.

3. Roof Repair at Pine Creek and Autauga Creek. The leak at Pine Creek is working its way toward the main power source. If water gets into the power source, it will shut down the entire plant. The roofing estimate for both plants is $20,000.

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Leakage marks are visible down the front of this motor control center. If it should leak into it as opposed to
down the front of it, that will short out this equipment and shut down the plant.

4. Lower Kingston Line. The pipe has reached capacity. This means that the city cannot allow any new housing development in this area to hook up to this line for city services. To alleviate this issue, a larger pipe must be installed in place of the existing line. It will cost roughly $80,000 to install a new line. (No photo provided as it would only show the inside of a pipe of sewage.)

5. Lift Station Controllers. (Janice Street and County Road 4). These two lift stations have controllers that are more than 20 years old. They are no longer reliable. The Janice Street lift station is in the middle of Overlook. In less than one hour after lift station failure, raw sewage would pour out of the manholes into the street. Controllers cost $10,000 each.

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The smudges at the bottom show where something arced inside it creating carbon smut on the outside.

 

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Internal view.

6. Grit Auger. This conveys the grit that is removed from the incoming flow and transfers it to a dumpster for final disposal. The two at Pine Creek are 31 years old. The “screw” in the center of the trough has worn down 4 inches in diameter so the grit is now accumulating around the sides of the trough and not being transported down the line to the dumpster. The troughs themselves are rusting through. The fiberglass patches that were applied have only slowed down the inevitable and are not a long-term solution. Wastewater had not received an exact price on these parts at the time of this report. Best estimate is $8,000 each for a total of $16,000 to fix the problem.

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The Grit Auger should be the width of the trough so this debris cannot accumulate this way.

 

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This is the outside of the trough. The build up of debris and its corrosive nature are continuing to rust
out the metal requiring larger and larger patches to delay the inevitable.

These projects have been identified as most urgent in the process of getting our Wastewater system healthy, reliable, and current.

Obviously, operating at a loss is not something that can be sustained. Its implications are farther reaching than just daily rates and expenses. It is the recommendation of this administration that sewer rates and impact fees be increased to cover the shortfall with a small buffer included to cover the cost of repairs and replacement equipment addressed above.

An ordinance is being presented by the Council for consideration at the February 15, 2011 Council Meeting (6 p.m. at City Hall).

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