JAMESTOWN – The cost to replace two lime sludge filter presses is estimated at more than $1.6 million, according to Joseph Rowell, water superintendent for the city of Jamestown.
Two filter presses, which are 29 years old, used in the water-softening treatment process experienced major breakdowns earlier this summer. The filter presses remove water from the lime sludge used to soften the drinking water.
The city of Jamestown uses well water, which is relatively hard and needs to be softened. The lime — the main treatment component to soften the water — is added as a softening agent and helps pull the iron and manganese from the water to lower the calcium and total hardness of the water.
During the water softening treatment process, the water treatment plant ends up with a lot of lime sludge that gets sent to the lime press room to be removed. The press filters extract the water from the sludge itself and leave the particulate behind.
Typically the lime slurry is sent to the press room and is in holding tanks where it is separated and pumped into the presses.
Rowell told the Jamestown Public Works Committee Thursday, Aug. 25, that both presses are currently operating at about 70% efficiency and the possibility of them failing could happen at any time.
He said the other alternative for fixing the likely failure of the presses would be to rebuild the machinery at an estimated cost of more than $700,000.
“If we rebuild them, there is no guarantee that next year something couldn’t fail,” said Darrell Hournbuckle, senior project engineer at Interstate Engineering.
Whether the Jamestown City Council chooses to rebuild or replace the presses, from the time of order to shipment, it will take 22 to 24 weeks, Rowell said.
“If the presses go down, we could be possibly waiting several months just to get the replacement parts,” he said.
The current presses at the water plant are overhead presses. Rowell recommended getting sidebar presses to replace the current ones.
“With a sidebar press there are fewer moving parts,” he said. “ … The newer (sidebar) press would be a little bit safer to maintain, easier to maintain and would have a lot less downtime as far as maintenance. Maintenance would be a lot quicker.”
Rowell said new sidebar presses will last about 30 to 35 years. He said the overhead press will last about 35 to 40 years.
He said the current presses have been maintained, but the biggest problem he is running into is that the parts needed to fix them are obsolete.
Councilman David Schloegel suggested replacing one press and repairing the other. He said if the replacement of both presses can be staggered, one of the presses could still operate if the other fails.
Rowell said since he learned about the failure of the presses, he has worked on trying to produce and get rid of as much waste as possible.
“The most crucial thing is if we do lose both presses, we have to divert 100% of our waste product down to our storage lagoons, which could inundate those after an extended period of time,” he said. “So in that time, I’ve taken a few measures to prepare moving some of that product from one cell to the next. I‘ve had to procure a few things and get those in place and set up a strategy of what we can put into place if those presses do fail.”
The Public Works Committee did not take any action.