Retrofitting Chopper Pumps at Packaged Lift Station Reaps Benefits One Year Later

Aug. 16, 2018
Plastics deposited in incoming lines formerly overwhelmed old non-clog pumps but not anymore
Jim Wilson, Vaughan Co.'s longtime local sales representative in northern Indiana, was reading the newspaper one morning when he discovered an article about major maintenance problems at Independence Hill Conservancy District's Taney Lift Station in Merrillville, Ind. The district had been spending too much money to keep the non-clog pumps in this packaged lift station unplugged. Wilson knew he had an answer, so he went to the district meeting to offer a solution. He suggested that he could provide three guaranteed-to-work Vaughan chopper pumps for about the cost of one year's maintenance. The alternative was a $1/4 million screening and grinding system with no performance guarantee. "Wipes, Swiffers and other plastics would settle out in the lines to the station, and then during a storm surge, settled debris would break loose and overwhelm and plug the existing pumps. The problems have gotten much worse since about [the year] 2000. We often had plugging two or three times per week," noted Brian Smolar, chief operator for the district. The unplugging had been resolved by an outside maintenance organization at a cost of $45,000 to $48,000 per year over the last 10 years. The original non-clog pumps were powered by 15 HP motors, but since the district wanted to increase the station capacity, new chopper pumps were proposed in May 2009 for larger, 20 HP motors to produce more flow, 750 gpm at 47 ft of total head. The district placed the order for three model PE4P6CS pedestal chopper pumps in September 2009, and an engineering submittal was provided within two days. The completed pumps and new motors were shipped in November 2009 and were installed and started up by a local contractor by December. The total installation cost was about $58,000. More than one year after startup of the retrofitted Vaughan chopper pumps, Independence Hill Conservancy District no longer needs the services of the outside maintenance company at this lift station. "We already made our money back on this investment even if these three Vaughan pumps were to blow up right now. This investment made by the Independence Hill Conservancy District is likely to save its taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run," commented Smolar.

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