AUSTIN EDITION Leaking pipe is declared urgent
By Tim Ruzek
Emergency repairs will be done on a pipe used for industrial waste at Austin's wastewater treatment plant.
The pipe leaks because of severe corrosion. City workers have tried to repair it several ways, but all attempts have been unsuccessful, City Engineer Jon Erichson told the Austin City Council on Monday.
A parallel backup pipe is handling the waste; if it also fails, the waste would run through the plant's domestic-sewage process, Erichson said after the meeting.
In the worst-case scenario, the industrial waste could have to be pumped into the Cedar River, Erichson said. That could affect the health, safety and welfare of people along and adjacent to the river, he said.
"We're very concerned over this," Erichson told the council.
In two unanimous votes, the council declared the pipe failure an emergency that needs a complete replacement and authorized a nearly $98,000 contract with Lamitt &; Sons to do the work.
About 2.3 million gallons of high-strength organic waste, mainly from the Hormel Foods Corp. plant and Quality Pork Processors, run through the pipe daily, Erichson said.
The 18-inch, steel sewage pipe, which is more than 30 years old, is under one of the treatment plant's buildings, making the repair difficult, Erichson said. Significant electric and fiber-optic lines above the pipe also complicate the work.
The industrial part of the treatment plant is operating at 50 percent capacity, Erichson said. Diverting wastewater from the industrial plant to the domestic plant potentially could affect the wastewater treatment process on the domestic side, he said. That could affect water quality and permit standards.
Erichson said he hopes the pipe will be replaced by the end of next week.