By Nick Pedley
News Editor 

Council receives update on east side sewer issues

Pipes to be relined following cleanout


February 23, 2023

The Hartley City Council is hoping an issue that caused the sewer system to back up into homes last fall is nearing a resolution.

Superintendent of Public Works Jaron Benz reported Feb. 13 that sewer lines extending southward to the sewer treatment plant on the east side of town had been jetted and televised recently. The pipes will eventually be relined this year in an effort to prevent future issues from arising.

"They looked as clean as they can get," said Benz.

Around a half-dozen homeowners in the Pine Grove Addition and surrounding area will be relieved to hear the news. In November, the sanitary sewer system backed up into their homes during a storm that dumped steady rainfall on the area throughout the day. According to previous council discussion, a variety of factors – including the city's new lift station – caused the issue.

Three main elements are believed to have contributed to the backup problems. A bypass valve from the previous lift station was left open, which caused water to back up into the wet well due to the high volume of rainfall. The added water caused the new lift station to pump significantly more than normal, which overtook the system. A significant amount of black grit was also found in sewer lines following the incident, which likely contributed to backup issues.

The city has temporarily reprogramed the new lift station to only pump a certain amount of water while problems are being addressed. Benz was confident the city could soon increase pumping capacity to normal levels so the new lift station can function as intended during periods of heavy precipitation.

"We'll be able to utilize it to its fullest extent," he said.

The city will complete cure-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining to reline pipes in the affected area. The method repairs existing sewer lines with a trenchless rehabilitation and restoration technique. The process uses a textile liner tube and a liquid resin to reseal cracks and other damage, in turn reducing the amount of inflow and infiltration into pipes and lessening the burden on the sewer system.

The overall cost of the project, which includes previous televising and jetting work, was around $19,000. Benz expected the relining work to be completed in early spring.

The council was on board with the improvements and was eager to prevent future problems from arising in eastside homes.

"Let's get it done so it's right and up to snuff," said Council Member Jerry Olson.

• Annual fire department update

In other business, Assistant Fire Chief Larry Espey provided an update on the fire department's activities in 2022.

The squad's roster has 25 of 26 positions filled, including one junior firefighter. Nineteen members are Firefighter 1 certified and a dozen are Firefighter 2 certified.

The department responded to 37 calls in 2022, up from 20 the previous year. Its territory includes four townships – Center, Lincoln, Omega and Hartley – equaling 107 sections of overall rural coverage.

Espey also highlighted equipment upgrades. Thanks to a $7,500 grant from the O'Brien County Community Foundation, the department was able to purchase five sets of new bunker gear. Additionally, two new truck radios and five new pagers were added along with several new pairs of boots and gloves.

Each firefighter is also donning a new helmet thanks to several grants totaling $14,000. Espey said the department this year hopes to replace five more sets of bunker gear, purchase a cordless K12 and buy a new gear dryer.

• Rec director hired

The council last week also filled a longstanding vacancy in the recreation department.

Jordan Summers was hired as part-time rec director at an annual rate of $3,000. The city had been advertising the position for several months.

Last summer, City Administrator Erica Haack and Tami Klein split rec director duties for the majority of the Little League season. Eventually, Natasha Adrian was hired to oversee the department for the remainder of the summer.


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