The Three Rs of Aging Lift Stations

Lift Station owners and operators throughout the water and wastewater industry are well aware of the increasing pressures being placed on aging infrastructure.

According to the Water Infrastructure Network, over $40 billion dollars in ready-to-go water and wastewater projects existed last year.

Romtec Utilities works with industry personnel every day to upgrade lift stations across the country, and we believe that any owner or operator working with aging lift stations should be aware of their options for improving their systems. The key to a successful upgrading project will begin by identifying what type of project it is. This is where to decide if your lift station upgrade is one of these 3 Rs: repair, retrofit, or replacement.

City of Shafter - Central Vly Hwy Site

Lift Station Repair

Lift station repairs will typically solve minor problems and won’t require a new lift station design. The day-to-day operation of the system will typically be maintained while repairs are taking place. Often, Lift Station repairs will fix a failing component of the entire system, like adding grinder pumps to an otherwise functional wastewater lift station or updating the control panel to include SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) capabilities.

For many lift stations including, clean water, stormwater, and wastewater lift stations, repairs can add years to the life cycle of a pump station system. It is important to evaluate the entire lift station engineering before undergoing a lift station repair. This will ensure that new components will be compatible with existing systems and that downtime for the system can be minimized or eliminated.

Lift Station Retrofits

To Romtec Utilities, a lift station retrofit is a complete overhaul of a failing or out-of-date system. In a retrofit scenario, the first step is to inspect the complete pump station to evaluate which components can be retained throughout the retrofit. Typically, the wet well is the primary piece to determining if a lift station retrofit can take place. A healthy wet well can save large amounts of time and money in engineering, manufacturing, and installation costs.

Retrofitting a lift station goes beyond simply swapping the pieces. A good lift station retrofit will upgrade system components to the current industry standards with complete lift station design and engineering. A lift station retrofit will only be successful if it ensures a functional system, utilizes existing components, and saves time and money over a lift station replacement.

Designing a lift station retrofit with upgraded components can add to the life of the system while incorporating updated design features that help with the operational efficiency of the entire system. This can save time on future repairs, along with some of the operating costs, like electricity to power the system.

Train Yard Stormwater Run Off System

Lift Station Replacement

A lift station replacement is a straightforward procedure in some ways, but there are considerations that should be made before undertaking this type of project. Pump stations are typically not designed for any downtime. Considering this premise, how do you remove and install a lift station without shutting off the system?

Romtec Utilities recommends that a new lift station replacement be installed adjacent to the existing system if the property size permits such construction methods. At Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, the Navajo Nation and National Park Service were able to replace an existing system in this manner. The new system was constructed and “tapped” into the existing inlet line and discharge force main. When the replacement system was started up, it simply overtook influent from the existing lift station, allowing the existing system to be retained for emergency purposes.

At Goleta Beach in California, the County of Santa Barbara operates a pump station with a much smaller footprint (that is to say property). At this site, construction of an adjacent system would have been impossible. Bypass pumping was utilized during the removal of the existing lift station and the construction of the lift station replacement. It is important to have precise lift station engineering and construction/start-up schedules when using bypass pumping during a replacement.

It can be difficult to determine which method is the best to upgrade an aging lift station. These systems are almost always underground and cannot simply be visually inspected. System owners can often save a lot of time and money if existing lift stations are evaluated correctly early on. Contact Romtec Utilities about your project and begin the investigation process to see which of the “3 Rs” will work for your clean water, stormwater, or wastewater lift station.

You can also see more on our Repair and Retrofit page.

Prologis Lot A

Review Your System to Determine the Best Option

The first step is reviewing your lift station to determine the overall health and longevity of the system and if there are any parts of the operation that are failing. Once you have established the health or failure of the system, you can determine a plan of action suited to the needs of the lift station.

At Romtec our team of engineers and pump system specialists can help you analyze what is wrong with an aging lift station and the steps needed to improve the system through repair, retrofit or if necessary, replacement.

Working with your staff, the owners, or the maintenance staff is a part of the review process as we assess the needs, problems, and opportunities to improve the aging lift station. Maintenance staff often know recent issues or pieces of the system that have been a problem in the past and may point to future problems if a part isn’t repaired or the system isn’t retrofitted.

That is why we work directly with our customers and their team to ensure the best option is picked to move forward. Replacing an entire lift station isn’t always the best option so understanding a current system and how it operates is critical to replacing a part or retrofitting it with new components that can add to the longevity and efficiency of the lift station.

To learn more about how we can help assess your system, contact us to see how our team of engineers and designers can help with your aging lift station.

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