Pump Station Exercise Prepares District for Disasters

January  02, 2014

When people think about natural disasters, they worry about how they would deal with power outages or lack of running water. But what about sanitation? Most people would be willing to go longer without a shower than with a toilet that doesn’t work. With this in mind, Napa Sanitation District staff ran a successful simulation to practice techniques for keeping the sewer flowing in the event of an emergency.

 “The exercise allowed us to become familiar with the details involved with an emergency bypass pumping event,” explained Gabe Snook, a wastewater treatment plant operator in charge of the exercise. “Now we’re more confident that during an emergency we would be able to pump sewage around a disabled pump station so that it can continue to the treatment plant, and not end up in buildings, streets or storm drains.”

The exercise with NSD staff took place in November and involved implementing emergency bypass of pump stations just as would occur in a real emergency. NSD staff was able to evaluate the response time, equipment and supplies needed, and to verify the sewer connection points. District staff assembled a trailer full of all materials needed, and contracted with Rain-for-Rent to provide additional equipment used to bypass a non-functioning pump station.

Staff was also able to determine the amount of time allowed to implement a bypass for each pump station before a sewage back-up into homes and businesses would occur. NSD staff was able to successfully complete bypass operations within the allowable time, which ranged from three to eight hours depending on the size of the pump station.

During normal operations, sewage flows by gravity to the wastewater treatment plant. When pipes get too deep in the ground, a lift station pumps the flow back to pipes at the ground surface level so that gravity can continue the work. These pump stations can be the Achilles heel of the sewer system, if a power outage or other damage causes them to stop working.

Napa Sanitation District (NSD) provides wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal services to the residents and businesses in the City of Napa, Silverado Country Club, the Napa County Airport and several adjacent unincorporated areas. NSD also provides recycled water service to portions of southern Napa County. Covering 20 square miles, NSD has been serving the community since November 1945. For further information about the District, please see www.NapaSan.com.




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