The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

September 21, 2012

Board members learn sewage pumps near end of life expectancy

By Ian Faulkner for the SNAP

Friday, September 21, 2012 — Another issue before Oakboro Town Board Monday night was the topic of E-1 sewage pumps. E-1 is the manufacturer of these grinder pumps, which are located at individual homes for sewage disposal. The problem is the pumps are beginning to fail the residents of Oakboro.

“All these issues are happening because we’re getting into the cycle of 10, 12 years ago when the majority of these pumps were put in. Now we’re getting into the cycle of lifespans, and we’re seeing them breaking down more often. We’re having to rebuild them or replace them,” Town Administrator Ross Holshouser said.

To be on the town’s sewer system it is necessary to have this type of pump. The E-1 grinder pumps operate on a pressurized system. Most of these pumps, if not abused nor neglected, will have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. Each E-1 pump costs approximately $2,000.

“Why do we have a pressurized system in our town?” Commissioner Rodney Eury asked.

“Over the years there have been many different situations. We’ve gone from a customer supported system to being a retailer of a larger system. Things have changed in that time period where we have taken on more customers through annexation.”

“There were grants that allowed sewer customers to tie into the system. Twenty years ago, no one knew where we were going to be today. So, decisions were made not knowing where we would be in the future,” Commissioner Georgia Harvey said.

However, according to Special Projects Manager Larry Branch, there are advantages to the E-1 pumps. They don’t require a main pump station like others do. There is no inflow or infiltration to this system. Furthermore, there is no electricity bill charge for these pumps.

“I know people mistreat them. I think if there is a way to determine whether a homeowner has mistreated a pump, we could do something different there,” said Eury.

Eury and Holshouser discussed the various methods that these pumps can be mistreated: placing rags and other such materials into the drain or pouring grease into the system.

“An E-1 pump going down, for a residential customer, is not an emergency,” said Holshouser.

“People that live out in the country, if there power goes out, the commode won’t flush. It’s no different than that.

“We need a change in atmosphere and understanding as we work on this.”

The issue was tabled for discussion at the next regularly scheduled meeting.