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FD in search of sewer input

The first of three public meetings is held Thursday

February 18, 2011
By JESSE HELLING, Messenger city editor

Fort Dodge City Engineer Chad Schaefer has promised a vigorous response to problems besetting the city's sanitary sewers.

To that end, a study set to commence next month will work to pinpoint those problems. To that end, a $1,533,247 contract to do the work was awarded to McClure Engineering Co., of Fort Dodge, by the City Council Monday.

The study will be funded through sewer revenue generated by the 2007 sewer rate increase.

In all, $6 million will be available over the next two fiscal years, Schaefer said.

"We're ready to make some things happen," he said.

Derick Anderson, regional manager for McClure, discussed what will be done in the coming months to evaluate the sewer system during a public meeting Thursday at Fort Dodge Senior High.

According to Anderson, Fort Dodge maintains 134 miles of sewer main. Electronic flow monitors will be installed at 26 locations throughout the city to calculate capacity. This will show where existing pipes are not large enough to function optimally, he said.

Workers will also conduct tests in which non-toxic smoke will be funneled into areas of the sewer system.

Rising smoke denotes broken pipes, Anderson said.

Using a closed-circuit television system, cameras will also be lowered into pipes to get a clear picture of how they function, Anderson said.

"We'll also be physically inspecting manholes in problem areas," he said.

Collected data will be complied into a long-range plan within one year, said Anderson.

The ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive strategy that will allow for the maximum benefit at the minimum cost, Anderson said.

Though a full-scale sewer overhaul may take 30 years or more, Anderson said that immediate repairs to obvious problems can be undertaken as early as this spring, concurrent with the evaluation process.

"You're going to see a ton of activity this summer," Anderson said.

Anderson asked the approximately 12 attendees to identify problems they've experienced on their own properties.

Most of the people at the meeting said they had experienced sewer backups on a regular basis.

"We're looking to gather data," said Anderson, adding that the last large-scale sewer project study was undertaken between 1977 and 1982.

Surveys available through the city will help pinpoint particular areas in which problems persist.

"The city knows we have issues," Anderson said. "We need to learn how extensive the problems are and gauge community support."

The survey also asks residents if they would be willing to pay a monthly Community Sewer Initiative charge on their utility bill.

Contact Jesse Helling at (515) 573-2141 or



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