Clothing, debris cause $10K in damage to Gill pump station

  • The wastewater pumping station on Riverview Drive in Gill. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/17/2022 4:14:58 PM

GILL — The Riverside Water District Commission is forming an ad hoc committee to address an issue of clothing and debris buildup that has caused nearly $10,000 in damage to the wastewater pump station since February.

According to Highway Superintendent John Miner, the Highway Department has seen the issue get “worse and worse” since beginning earlier this year. Buildup of materials such as diapers, wipes, rope, underwear and bras have “completely burnt up” two pump station motors, with each costing around $4,950 to replace, according to Miner.

“You name it, it’s been in the sewer system binding our pumps up,” he said. “When we got to one of the motors, there were actually sparks coming out of it, it was so hot.”

Additional costs include $3,781.69 over 138 necessitated employee hours as workers conducted maintenance work at the pump station.

Miner brought the issue to the Selectboard on Monday both to inform its members and to request that costs be accounted for in the town’s sewer budget rather than the highway budget, considering its applicability to the former. As Miner, the Selectboard and Riverside Water District Commission Chair Jeff Suprenant briefly discussed spending options, Selectboard member Greg Snedeker noted that deriving funding from taxpayers would be difficult. Riverside’s pump station only serves 120 houses, Suprenant said.

“You can’t charge people who aren’t in the district for the use,” Snedeker said. “That’s just not how it goes.”

Snedeker suggested to Suprenant that a committee be formed in the district to investigate the issue and raise awareness within the area in hopes of cutting the problem off at the source.

“The main thing right now is to cut off whatever’s causing this,” Snedeker said. “It could be from teenagers that could be having fun and causing trouble. That wouldn’t be the first time.”

In addition to debris buildup, grease buildup has impeded pump station operations, Miner said. At one point, he said, pumping was impossible because “there was probably 4 to 6 or 7 feet of solid grease down in the pit.”

“The thing about it that you don’t realize is that grease down there, it hardens up like a rock,” he added.

For now, Suprenant is focused on forming an effective committee to address the issue of clothing and debris buildup. As of now, he said, the committee would include himself, Riverview Drive resident Peter Conway and “a few others.” Suprenant argued there is a sense of urgency to resolve these sewer issues due to expensive related fees for residents, adding that he has paid $500 per quarter for his sewer bill.

“They’ve got to be informed of what’s going on,” Suprenant said of Riverside residents. “Our sewer rates are so expensive.”

Reach Julian Mendoza
at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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