New manhole covers key tactic in reducing excess water
The Eudora Public Works Department is taking the city back one manhole cover at a time.
City employees spent the last month systematically finding and capping antiquated sewer lids in an effort to control the flow of excess water into the city's treatment plant. City engineer Brian Kingsley of B&G Consultants pointed to the older manhole covers as one of the key culprits responsible for inflow and infiltration.
Kingsley highlighted the problems caused by the inflow and infiltration of storm water as part of an extensive sewer study sponsored by the city.
"If (replacing manhole covers) stops I and I, it will more than pay for the project," city superintendent Delbert Breithaupt said. "It's just a drop in the bucket."
Even before Kingsley's report, City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said the city had begun to repair some of the lids.
"Those are things we can do in-house and do at a low cost," Beatty said. "We could have hired it out, but we had staff to do it and do it quickly."
The council budgeted $150,000 this year for needed sewer improvements. So far, the manhole project has only cost the city around $6,000. The total would be much higher if the city contracted out, Beatty said.
City workers have battled rough terrain, unseasonably warm spring heat and locations often inaccessible to the department's heavy equipment in an effort to complete the project.
But challenges aside, city workers have already had success.
"We started right away knowing the rainy season was coming. The more water we could prevent coming into the plant, the better off we were," Beatty said. "We're excited about the project."
In all, the city has replaced dozens of the older covers with modern equivalents that remain tightly sealed against the rising water.
The older covers allowed rainwater to cascade into the system and consequently bog down the treatment plant's ability to process the normal load of the city's wastewater.
Currently, crews have finished work on the lids lining the east interceptor and are now working to cap those near the Wakarusa River. The project is almost half finished, Beatty said.
The new sewer caps weigh several hundred pounds and are made of cast iron, Breithaupt said.
It could take city workers up to several hours to fully install one of the new lids, depending on the access they have to the site.
In some situations, city workers have had to dig around the covers by hand to lift them out.
"They've had to be creative in using our equipment because we don't have contractor-type equipment that does everything," Beatty said.
More than digging the holes by hand, there are times workers have had to lift off the old covers by hand to transport them away.
"Our guys put a little sweat and labor into a couple of them," Beatty said.
The manhole project is just one initiative the city has undertaken to cut inflow and infiltration and get the most out of the wastewater treatment plant.
City officials have been working on a questionnaire and an information campaign to curb the use of sump pumps and will continue to repair the older sewer lines.
City workers might need outside help for future sewer projects, including sealing brick sewer entries and pipe repair.
After workers fix lids on the edge of the Wakarusa River, they will take to the streets, Beatty said.
"They've worked hard to get it done, so it wouldn't cost an extreme amount of money to start solving our problems with I and I," Beatty said.