$200K part fails at one of City's main lift stations, creating a messy, difficult situation

Mike Christopherson

An expensive, messy and potentially unsafe situation has developed on the far east end of Stuart Avenue in Sampson’s Addition, where one of the City of Crookston’s four main lift stations has had a $200,000 part fail, leaving City staff to use pitchforks and buckets to keep the lift station at least semi-operational until the new part arrives in 8 to 10 weeks.

The Crookston City Council Monday evening approved a motion to modify the City’s 2020 budget so that $200,000 can be taken from wastewater reserve funds to pay for the part. It’ll cost around $20,000 to have it installed as well.

The City has 11 lift stations, but four of them are considered “primary” lifts. Public Works Director Pat Kelly said the Stuart Avenue station has around two-thirds of the town’s waste stream going through it.

The broken part, the original one in the approximately 40-year old lift station, is known as a “bar screen rake,” Kelly explained, that removes larger solids from the waste stream before it all makes its way to the pumps.

“The lift station is still operating, but the bar screen has to be cleaned manually using a pitchfork and buckets,” he added. “It's not the safest or most sustainable operation. …It’s a significant safety risk if it’s not repaired.”

Kelly said it’s a constant process, trying to keep the City’s 11 lift stations as updated as possible and operational. The City has made a concerted effort to rehab some over the past few years with new pumps and other parts. “We’re trying to catch up on these things,” he said. “Nothing’s being neglected, but the useful life (of some of the oldest parts and equipment) is probably long past.”