High Springs, Fl.

Our neighbors to the north

The town of High Springs, Fl., near Gainesville, has grinder pumps… and grinder pump problems.  Their sewer project was originally approved in 2001 (about the same time as the PCSSRP) and today they have a total of 1100 grinder pumps (I don’t know what percentage this represents of their total sewer system, but part of the system remains on gravity).  It seems that things were fine at first.  The pumps carry a two year warranty, so the initial replacement cost was covered by the manufacturer.  But as more pumps were added to the system and the warranties began to expire, more and more cost was shifted to the city.  As of March 2012, the city has already replaced 162 pumps. “The system’s grinder pumps are failing at a rate of four a month to as many as four a week”, the failure rate being 22.7% in roughly two years.

Mayor Dean Davis said the debt on the sewer system is for a period of 40 years. “So, I think we’ve bought a used car that’s going to wear out before we get the debt paid,” he said. The city commission recently approved $29,760 to the engineering firm of Mittauer and Assoc. to determine the best course of action.

Will residents get stuck with the bill?

The City is currently absorbing all cost for grinder pumps that fail, but replacements are costing the city between $3,000 and $6,000. As the pumps run out of their warranties, “fixing the pumps could eventually fall on the homeowner”.  An agenda item for the Sept 2012 City Commission Meeting recommends that “the only way to reduce the cost to the City is by setting fees for pump replacements… in order to encourage better maintenance and care of the grinder pumps by the end users”.  Do we want to get ourselves into a situation like this?

Emergency Procedures

Commissioner Linda Gestrin said she is worried about what would happen if the power went out (as are some of us in N-3) and would like to see future discussion on an emergency plan. The High Springs Grinder Pump Information brochure has a procedure for power failures, but perhaps Commissioner Gestrin doesn’t think “have a camp bucket on hand for sanitary uses” is adequate!

More contractors?

Apparently the High Springs maintenance department feels as overwhelmed as the folks in James City County (previous post).  A recent Wastewater System O&M Meeting produced an action item to solicit bids for a grinder pump repair program. Does Sarasota County really need another program that requires administering contracts and monitoring contractors?

Is this our future?

I don’t know what similarities we share with High Springs.  Maybe our pumps are better.  Maybe we won’t have the problems they’re having. But certainly they did not expect to be in the situation they’re in today, having to spend $30,000 trying to find out what went wrong.

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