Update for September 11, 2014

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Castroville council opts to repair Koenig Park lift station

By William Hoover
Anvil Herald Correspondent

Castroville City Council on Sept. 9 approved making $63,000 worth of repairs to bring the Koenig Park Lift Station back into full operation. The repairs will involve replacing the station’s two submersible pumps. Council went with the repair option instead of asking residents, who currently depend on the facility, to maintain their own private grinder pump stations.

In July, council asked for more information before making a decision between repairing the existing Koenig Park Lift Station, which is located on public property adjacent the Medina River, or replacing it with a four new grinder pump stations on adjacent private properties. The current lift station only serves three private properties and Koenig Park.

City engineering company Freese and Nichols gave the city five options for addressing the failing lift station.

At the time, Freese and Nichols’ Charles Kucherka, PE, told council purchasing four grinder pumps for $60,000 was the lowest cost option.

“Our number one recommendation is to install the grinder pumps,” he said. “That is the lowest capital cost to the city.”

However, the estimate for the grinder pump solution jumped to $199,000 once installation costs are added to the estimate.

“At the July 22 council meeting, we discussed some rehabilitation options for the Koenig Park Lift station,” said Kucherka. “We were to evaluate the option of abandoning the lift station and installing individual grinder pump stations and connections at the residences using the lift station.”

Kucherka told council that if the city plans to maintain the grinder stations, they would need to make a significant investment to bring them up to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality municipal standards. He said the grinder stations would only be economical for the city if the specified residents agreed to maintain the pumps themselves.

“It is the same standard that is increasing the cost of rehabilitating and replacing the lift station,” he said. “We still recommend discussing installing the grinder pump stations on the individual properties. The homeowners have to volunteer for that, which might be unlikely.”

“Our second option that we recommended would be to install a new lift station meeting current TCEQ standards,” he added.

City Administrator Mark Roath asked Kucherka to review the costs of the grinder pump option since it had increased significantly from the original $60,000 estimate.

“The previous estimate did not have an amount for installing the private grinder pump stations at the homes, so that option increased quite significantly to $199,000,” he said.

“Option 4, to replace the existing submersible pump; that number did go up a little bit (from $58,000 to $63,000) because we were asked to make an assumption that the piping might be damaged during installation of the new pump,” he said.

“We don’t know if all the property owners are going to agree to the grinder pump option under these conditions,” said Lee. “Every one of them said they were concerned about potential maintenance.”

Lee noted that the average price of a home in Castroville is between $150,000 and $180,000.

“The price of the grinder pump option is $50,000 a home for four homes,” he said. “To say it would cost a quarter of the price of a home is interestingly expensive.”

“I’m still of the same opinion I was before,” said District 1 Councilman Sammy Tschirhart. “I want to do the repair and maintenance on what we have for the $63,000. If we replace both pumps right away, then we are good for another 40 years.”

“I too would just as soon go with Option 4, replacing the pumps,” agreed District 2 Councilwoman Kyle McVay.

“What risk is involved in just replacing the pumps?” asked District 3 Councilman Jeff Gardner. “What else could go wrong?”

“They could crack the lid while lifting the lid off,” said Kucherka. “The lid would have to be replaced with a flood proof hatch. And, when actually installing the pumps, the piping could disintegrate or break off. Then, we’d need to re-pipe things.”

“Is that included in your estimate?” asked Gardner.

“No, the number does not include replacing the lid with a hatch,” said Kucherka.

After further discussion, Gardner offered a motion to approve Option 4 and replace the pumps at the Koenig Park Lift Station. The motion passed unanimously after a second from District 4 Councilman Eric Cherry.



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