BWD considers options following major equipment failure

WELLSVILLE – An equipment failure at the Buckeye Water District’s raw water pump station late last week prompted a meeting of the district engineering committee to work out a solution.

In the pre-dawn hours of last Thursday, one of three pumps at the station experienced a still-unknown failure that caused the shaft between the pump and the electric generator that powers it to break apart. The force of the shaft breaking also cracked the case, leaving the pump inoperable.

“We don’t know what happened to it. We know it came apart, it really came apart,” said Mike Ryan, chairman of the BWD board of trustees, during the meeting Tuesday morning at the district office in Wellsville.

The failed pump is one of two electrically-driven pumps that are operated at regular intervals to save wear and tear on both units. The third is an emergency back-up pump powered by a diesel engine.

With the one regular pump offline, the second pump at the station – at the northern tip of Wellsville – is now supplying all of the water to the BWD treatment plant five miles away, up state Route 45.

“We still have that diesel if something goes wrong with it,” Ryan said. “We just don’t want to run that diesel any more than we have to, because it’s really expensive.”

The pumps in the station date back to 2008, when the current facility went into service as part of a greater district infrastructure renewal that included the new water treatment plant, which was completed the following year.

Ryan emphasized the need to either get the sidelined pump repaired or, if necessary, replaced quickly. Both scenarios present their own challenges, however.

The plant’s pumps are all sourced from a German manufacturer, and recurrent problems with the pump seals have pointed out the difficulty in sourcing parts from overseas and the long wait involved with having them shipped to the U.S.

Ryan says that having American-made pumps would be his preference, as they would be easier to source parts for the inevitable repairs that crop up. He said the facility was built specifically with these German pumps in mind, though there’s no doubt another make of pump could be fit into the same space with only minor modifications.

“They can be shimmied to a point,” Ryan said. “If you found an American pump that’s within reason, you can always just change the piping.”

BWD manager Al DeAngelis says the district was advised by its insurance carrier not to attempt servicing the pump, but rather, to have it removed and shipped to a site in Cleveland where their technicians can inspect it. After that has taken place, the district will know what it’s facing and be able to make an informed decision of what to do.