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Trouble at the Waste Water Treatment Facility: Council approves purchase of auger screen

The big conversation during Monday night’s special Lennox City Council meeting was regarding the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF). Issues at the WWTF were discovered shortly after Lennox’s Water and Sewer Superintendent Jeremy Gulbranson was hired in October of 2015.

He and City of Lennox Public Relations Director, Amanda Anglin were interviewed Tuesday to go over those issues at the Waste Water Treatment Facility.

Problems arose due to lack of routine maintenance not done on the auger screen, which was new with the WWTF in 2011. Gulbranson said, “It was worn out when I started. Last February it was noticed that the auger was damaged beyond repair.”

This unit is where all of the sewage gets pumped to, the auger filters all of the things that shouldn’t be in waste-water. There was an attempt to repair it in August 2016 and that fix worked, up until the week before Thanksgiving.

For that first fix, Gulbranson suggested to go with the manufacturer’s recommendation of replacing the auger screen (entire unit), but the council moved forward with ordering parts. The parts arrived, and it was discovered they were incorrect; the manufacturer had sent the wrong part. The manufacturer recommended to not use the part and said they would ship the correct part. The down time was of concern. Council decided to move forward with the wrong part against recommendations. Anglin explained the decision the council made was to get the plant up and running quickly to save money for tax payers.

Gulbranson said it is not good for the plant to be out of commission, a screen is cleaned manually when the auger screen is not working and that is now working double duty.

On November 22, 2016 Stockwell engineers assessed the WWTF. During inspection the following deficiencies were noted: Auger motor was disconnected from the electrical system; debris was lodged in the auger flighting near the end plate of the motor causing the auger system to seize; bolts connecting the motor to the end-plate were sheared or missing; framing for the overhead door was bent and out of alignment; auger scraper was missing from housing wye.

Monday night, the Council was presented three options again to fix the auger at the WWTF. Dennis Rebelein from Banner and Associates was there to explain the options. Anglin summarized, option one would be to order replacement parts, rebuild the unit themselves. There would be no warranty and a rough estimate of cost was $50,000.

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