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Harmony looks into lift station problems

Fri, Jul 11th, 2008
Posted in Government

Harmony residents have some concerns about what is going on with the north lift station that seemed to be the cause of the sewer issues during the heavy rains on June 7-8. During that storm Harmony received more than eight inches of rain, and many people had water in their basements as a result. There were also some unlucky residents who had sewer backup problems in their basement.

City employee Chris Johnson explained that the problem seemed to be in the north lift station not pumping correctly. At the regular meeting on July 8, Louise Sikkink asked the council what was being done about the problem.

Johnson said that Bonestroo engineers had been down to check out the pumping rates, and they don't believe that it's entirely a pumping problem. "Next week we are having our yearly maintenance done so we will find out more," said Johnson.

He added that the sewer main between the Mobil Station and Bigalk's Chevrolet is going to be cleaned out and vacuumed later in the week. They will also be doing some smoke testing to see if there are any bad spots that are allowing ground water to get into the sanitary sewer, which seems to be the problem.

"We're trying," said Johnson. "I don't want to see it happen again, either."

Sikkink also asked about the red light and beeping noises at the station on the previous Saturday night. Johnson said the light and noise only mean that there is a high flow, not that the pump is failing. An emergency committee had met earlier to figure out how to prevent this from happening again, and Johnson said one of the things they discussed was pumping earlier in the storm next time. Also, a dialer in the station that is supposed to call Johnson and other city workers on their cell phones automatically if there are problems failed to go off during the June storm. They are also looking into that matter with the phone company.

Waste Management

Margo Underwood of Waste Management attended the council meeting to ask how things are going with waste removal and to present a new program to the city. She mentioned that the current agreement with the city will be up in the beginning of next year, and they now have a few more options to consider.

The Single Sort Program is a new program in which residents have a large 64 gallon cart for all of their recycling instead of a small bin. The recycling does not have to be sorted, as it can all go into the same cart. This makes recycling very convenient for residents and makes for higher participation in cities that have tried the program.

"On average, people are recycling about ten pounds more a month than with their existing program," said Underwood. She said the average recycling participation in a city is from 60-65 percent, and this program has increased participation to about 95 percent.

Pick-up for the carts would be every other week with an automated truck. The recycling is then taken to a facility in Minneapolis where it is sorted, with a 97 percent recovery rate.

Some of the positive things about the program are the reduced traffic due to every other week pick-up, a smaller truck with less wear and tear on the streets, higher participation and a higher quality in the recycling, as things stay dry in the cart. The carts are also lightweight and easy to maneuver.

Council member Robert Smith asked Underwood about the costs of the program. She said she did not have any actual numbers with her at the time, but the costs would be comparable to the current recycling program.

Council member Gerry Shuck said that if the board decides to bid out for garbage service next year, they can look at the prices then. The council has been thinking about bidding out as they haven't done it in a long time and want to be sure they are getting the best prices for their customers.

Other Business

• Jeff O'Connor and Jean Ingvalson requested the city do some work to a street where the new Antique Mall is currently being built in Harmony's Industrial Park area. O'Connor explained that they are planning to open the mall in early September, and they need the street going between the Ethanol building and the mall to be functional by then. The city would have to pay to set the grade for the street and put a gravel road down. They will be having Bonestroo look at the road soon.

• City Administrator Jerome Illg said bids have been sent out for both the Community Center project and the parking lot project. He asked to move the July meeting to July 29 so the council has a chance to look at all of the bids.

• City Attorney Richard Nethercut mentioned that the school district recently discovered that they own some land in a small lot between the campground and P&H Implement. The city was not aware that this land was owned by the school. He is currently working with the school to see if they are going to deed it back to the city.

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