Sewer lifters up for overhaul |

Sewer lifters up for overhaul

The Union StaffRick Beckley, Grass Valley deputy director of public works, visits the sewer lift station off Slate Creek Road.
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Ever wonder how sewage travels uphill?

The answer is sewer lift stations, which pump sewage uphill into a gravity-fed sewer line that transports the wastewater to a treatment plant.

Grass Valley maintains six sewer lift stations that are due for a major evaluation, said Rick Beckley, the city’s deputy director of public works.

The city is expected to hire a consultant this winter to study where sewage should be pumped. The study will evaluate how much sewage should be sent to the sewer lift station off Slate Creek Road, and how much should go to the sewer lift station at Morgan Ranch off Ridge Road.

“We operate adequately currently, but we have to look at the future,” Rudy Golnik, the city’s public works director, said Friday.

The Slate Creek sewer lift station, nestled in the Deer Creek watershed, pumps 70,000 gallons a day, including sewage from Nevada Union High School on Ridge Road.

The three pumps there will have be replaced with more powerful pumps, Golnik said.

But that won’t solve the problem of sewer smells, something Beckley hears about periodically.

Smelly gases – hydrogen sulfides – escape through manholes into the air when the sewage, pumped uphill under pressure, is suddenly released into an unpressurized gravity-fed sewer line, Beckley and Golnik said. The hydrogen sulfides are produced by anaerobic bacteria that proliferate when there is no oxygen available.

City staff use chemicals to neutralize the odors and an aerator is used at the Slate Creek sewer lift station to pump oxygen into the sewage, Beckley said.

Francis Zangara, a 25-year Hughes Road resident, is among those who have called Beckley to report bad odors. “I’m the number one pest,” Zangara said jokingly Friday.

The lift stations have alarm systems but out of precaution, people should report sewage odors to the city, Beckley said.

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