Sewer plant pumps almost functional

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By MIKE MORRIS

After about a month, Angels Camp's new sewer plant remains shut down because of pump failure, despite two visits by a total of four British manufacturers sent over to fix the problem.

But Angels Camp Engineer Gary Ghio said he hopes the plant will be back online today, or at least this week. The plant had a short-lived, but successful start toward the beginning of June. One set of four pumps needed to be pulled and cleaned, and two of the four still need to be adjusted, Ghio said.

Two of the pump manufacturers arrived from England two weeks ago to identify and repair the problem. They were unable to fix the pumps, so a second pair of British manufacturers visited the plant Thursday.

They believe they fixed the snag, Ghio said.

The pump problems were just part of a series of setbacks for the new $4.8 million water-treatment facility.

"It has been a very difficult process," Ghio said.

From fires to leaks, problems have plagued the new plant. The project was supposed to be completed in one year, but more than two years later, the plant remains inoperable.

"There are a lot of issues along with this, so I think that exacerbates the situation," Angels Camp City Administrator Tim Shearer said of the pump problems.

The Darby Fire of September 2001 cut off water as construction got under way several months before. To complicate matters, PG&E's bankruptcy slowed the installation of power needed for further construction.

Then, shortly after crews began using a large water container, known as an equalization basin, from the city's old plant as temporary sewage storage, the basin began leaking into Six Mile Creek.

The California Regional Water Control Board insisted construction stop until the leak could be fixed.

Pumps were set into the creek and liners were installed so that any leaking sewage would be sent back into the basin. There also were shipping delays for the new batch reactors that were manufactured in the United Kingdom.

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The Union Democrat
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