Equipment breakdown could cost thousands to repair or replace

A Jamestown official said the water plant operated with just the lagoons until 1992.

munipal water plant lagoon 070722.jpg
With two filter presses being inoperable, all waste product can be held in the lagoons south of the water plant in Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – Two filter presses used in the water-softening treatment process experienced major breakdowns last week that could cost the city of Jamestown a significant amount of money to repair or replace the equipment.

Joseph Rowell, water superintendent, told the Jamestown City Council on Tuesday, July 5, that both filter presses are 29 years old and are inoperable after experiencing the same breakdowns with the hydraulics. He said the parts to repair the current filter presses are pretty much obsolete and could take up to 22 to 24 weeks to receive.

“The parts that I am finding are very expensive,” he said.

A rough estimate of the replacement parts for each press is more than $134,600 and does not include labor, installation or shipping, Rowell said. He said a company from Michigan would have to come and replace the parts and would cost about $120 per hour for travel expenses and $1,450 per day, which are both rough estimates.

“How long that will take to facilitate or install, I do not know,” he said.


Rowell said the city of Jamestown uses well water, which is relatively hard and needs to be softened. He said the lime – the main treatment component to soften the water – is added as a softening agent and helps pull the iron and manganese from the water to lower the calcium and total hardness of the water.

During the water softening treatment process, the water treatment plant ends up with a lot of lime sludge that gets sent to the lime press room to be removed. The press filters extract the water from the sludge itself and leave the particulate behind, he said.

Grant funds up to $75,000 are available through the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.

He said typically the lime slurry is sent to the press room and is in holding tanks where it is separated and pumped into the presses.

“Currently right now we can’t do that, so we have to bypass that whole process,” Rowell said. “All the waste product, we do have three lagoons that do hold that. We have to reroute that down to those ponds.”

Councilman David Steele said putting all the lime into the ponds influences the water softening treatment process because the water needs to be pumped into lagoons located south of the city water plant.

“This puts more pressure on them,” he said. “This is a whole domino effect of not good things happening for the city with infrastructure."

With replacement parts exceeding $134,600 per filter press, another option could be purchasing and installing new ones, Rowell said. He said one new filter press costs about $225,000, which does not include labor, installation or shipping, and the city would receive it in about 22 to 24 weeks.

Each filter press has a powerhead unit that facilitates and pumps the hydraulics.


“Essentially what we would have to do is change all that whole portion of the system,” Rowell said. “In order to do that, we are finding out that just about all the replacement parts on there minus the pumps are obsolete.”

The hydraulic ram costs about $80,000 to replace on each press, he said. He said press plates have been replaced on one filter press before and that could be retrofitted to another one to save some money.

“The plates are roughly about $40,000 to $50,000 for a new plate so we could save that on one press,” he said.

Another problem with changing the presses is access to the building is needed and requires removing one wall from the water treatment plant.

“The plant was designed to be able to do that knowing that within so many years you would be changing those presses out,” Rowell said. “That would be an added expense.”

Because both presses are inoperable, Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said it is important to keep the lagoons clear of the lime.

Rowell said normally about 25% of its process ever reaches the lagoons south of the water treatment plant. He said the city has a dredge pump that takes any particulates sent to the lagoons back to the water treatment plant to be processed.

“Currently we won’t be able to do that since we don’t have the presses, so that will just continue to fill,” he said. “At some point, if it takes too long we may have to look at dredging that out and hauling it out.”


Right now, Rowell said he is trying to get one of the hydraulic rams fixed.

“Even if we had one rebuilt though, it doesn't mean we don’t need a new one down the line,” he said. “It might be enough to at least get one press up and running and we would be able to maintain that way. It’s a possibility I might be able to get one of those presses within the end of the week to alleviate some of that pressure and buy us a little time to get to that January date of either replacement of the presses or repairing the presses.”

Rowell said replacing or repairing the filter presses will likely be done in the beginning of 2023.

He said the water plant operated with just the lagoons until 1992.

“They just managed the lagoons and kept the moisture out of certain ones,” he said. “They would dredge that out and haul it out to the landfill. It is manageable. If it’s looking like we are going to go long term into the winter, then I will have to just adjust my plan.”

The Public Works Committee could take action on the matter at its July 21 meeting.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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