When Jed Clampett found crude oil bubbling up through the ground in the opening credits of the Beverly Hillbillies, it was quite a stroke of luck. It was the opposite for a township supervisor in upper Michigan when he made a discovery on a routine drive between the pumping station and the maintenance facility located by their lagoon.
Instead of black gold or Texas tea, the sewer department noticed a weepage, sewer media, and a small flow bubbling up from the ground. Immediately, they knew they had a big problem underground with the force main that runs from the pumping station to the lagoon.
They acted quickly, temporarily plugging the pencil sized hole in the pipe, and creating a makeshift cofferdam with bales of hay. They immediately notified the Michigan DEQ. After putting a temporary fix into place, they set to work finding a solution to the problem.
According to the wastewater supervisor, it was critical to get the problem resolved right away. The Michigan DEQ doesn’t mess around. Not acting quickly could lead to $25K/day in fines, civil penalties, and if the problem was ignored, criminal sanctions.
The township called different vendors to get their take on a solution. They got a few ideas, everything from applying epoxy to the pipe, to replacing the sewer line, which would have also meant replacing the road that ran across it. Not exactly something they had budgeted for.
The supervisor decided to call Eric Finnila and Craig Koch from Crane Engineering. Crane’s solution was to fabricate a repair clamp for the pipe, designed to seal the hole shut. No one manufactures a clamp like this, so the Crane Engineering service team fabricated one.
The service team was onsite at 8:00 AM, installed the fabricated clamp, and finished the job by noon. The job was completed for far less than the township was quoted by others, and is expected to be permanent.
Anyone who works in wastewater treatment will tell you, there’s no substitute for creativity and ingenuity. The solution was simple, effective, and far more cost effective than the other ideas the township was presented.
When asked what advice he would give to others facing the same type of challenge, the township supervisor replied, “Call Eric and Craig, they’ll get it figured out!”
Got an unusual water or wastewater related challenge? Ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance to businesses and municipalities in Wisconsin and upper Michigan.