GIRARD — The City of Girard hosted a special meeting Thursday to continue working toward a solution to sewer issues.
The Girard City Council and Crawford County Commissioners came together — along with representatives from the Crawford County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center and City of Girard Wastewater Department — to discuss a plan of attack and cost sharing options for sewer problems at the Girard Industrial Park linked to the jail.
According to Girard City Administrator Chris Weiner and Wastewater Operator Steve Brooks, the city’s sewer lift station at the industrial park has seen unusual wear because of debris coming into the sewer from the jail.
The lift station nearing failure and must be replaced — an expense of around $80,000. The city will replace the lift station, but first is hoping to find a way to share the burden of a bar screen, which needs to be installed at the jail to catch debris before it enters the lift station.
The current lift station has been in place for 26 years, and County Commissioner Tom Moody said that was a pretty good run.
“Running a business comes with costs,” Moody said. “I think your lift station has lasted for it’s life and these are just costs that must be dealt with.”
However, Brooks said the station has only lasted so long because of extra hours and equipment put in by the city to clean debris out, replace parts and keep the station alive as long as possible. These parts and hours would not be needed if clothing, food, and other items from the jail were stopped by a screen.
The station was shelled and had it’s motor replaced in 2006.
An automated screen, which would not require a person to clean it, will cost around another $80,000, and the city believes a manual screen — cleaned by staff — may be a cheaper option.
A large part of the discussion around the sewer issue has been the responsibility for cleaning it — whether that responsibility fall to the Girard or Crawford County.
Commissioner Carl Wood said the county can help pay for a screen — he would prefer a manual one — but that the city should be responsible for cleaning it.
Weiner said the issue the city faces is not wanting to set a precedent that they will maintain screens for other entities.
“If another business comes into the industrial park and has to install a screen to deal with debris coming into the sewer from their business,” Weiner said. “We don’t want to set the precedent that the city will install it and maintain it.”
The City of Girard also has an ordinance prohibiting facilities from flushing clothing, food and other solid items into the sewer system. Brooks said if this issue was anywhere other than the jail, the would shut off their sewer until the issue was resolved.
“We have laws against littering on state, county and city property, and we have the same kind of laws for our sewer,” Brooks said. “We don’t accept litter on our streets, so I’m asking that we don’t accept it in our sewer.”
Brooks also acknowledged that Sheriff Dan Peak has done all he can to decrease inmates flushing trash, food and clothes into the sewer, but cannot control it completely.
Brooks had bids for automated screens and lift stations, but had not acquired quotes on a manual screen. The council and commissioners decided they need to get hard numbers before they can officially decided what role the county will take in helping out.
A meeting has yet to be scheduled.
Weiner said the city will also have to engineer the replacement lift station due to Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulations. Girard has an on-call engineering contract with PEC and will meet with them next week.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.