Power loss happens for any number of reasons. From storms to squirrels, power outages can happen at any time in any place. Power or no power, the wastewater does not stop flowing. Therefore, municipalities across the state must have a backup plan for each of their lift stations. Each has a different strategy, but one of them is becoming more popular with the municipalities we’re working with.
One option is to call a septic hauler to clean out the lift station. This is a great option for a lift station that may only fill once a day. When the lift station fills, the septic hauler will pump it out. Odds are the power will be back on before it needs to be pumped again. This option works well, provided there is a hauler available in the time you need it.
An onsite generator is a great option for lift stations during a power outage. The generator will start automatically once it senses there is no power. It will open a transfer switch that eliminates power coming from the utility and electrifies the panel. This is a great choice for peace of mind, but it can be costly to have an onsite generator at every lift station.
Another option is a portable generator. These trailer mounted generators can plug into a manual transfer switch and function the same as the onsite generators.
Generators are not a sure-fire solution though. With a generator it’s not as simple as just turning it on, if the transfer switch doesn’t work you can’t start the pump. What if controls have been shorted out by lightning? In this situation, the next choice might be a bypass pump.
During power outages, a trailer mounted, engine-driven pump is transported to lift stations, quickly hooked up, then pumps the sewage from the lift station. A bypass port should be installed in the force main to keep the sewage moving down the line.
We’re seeing many municipalities move to this option. They’re setting up new lift stations with the inlets/outlets to hook up a bypass pump in times of power outages. Existing lift stations can be retrofitted with these hook-ups as well.
Power outages are no joke for municipalities. If the emergency plan at your municipality needs improvement, talk to an engineer in your area to discuss options. You’ll find the best solution that fits your municipality’s needs and budget.
Want to talk options? Ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance to municipalities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and upper Michigan.