The sewer plant in Seal Harbor. Several of the plant's sludge pumps are set to be replaced. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Faulty sludge pumps set for replacement



MOUNT DESERT — If your sludge pump isn’t working, it can ruin your whole day.

Ed Montague, the town’s wastewater treatment plant superintendent, has had a lot of those days since three new pumps were installed at the Seal Harbor treatment plant in 2003. One of them was replaced last year, and last week the Board of Selectmen agreed to spend $32,700 to replace the others.

“We have had to rebuild at least one of these pumps every year or so at the cost of approximately $5,000 each,” Montague said in a recent email to Public Works Director Tony Smith. “We keep spare parts in stock since they have been known to fail without warning.

“In 2015, we ended up purchasing $15,402.80 worth of parts to repair all three pumps that failed one after the other. Since 2015, we have purchased additional spare parts for the pumps and have exhausted those.”

In March 2017, Montague replaced one of the Seal Harbor plant’s sludge pumps with a newer model to see how it would perform. It is similar to the ones used in the Somesville treatment plant.

“We ran it constantly for five months without any issues,” he said. “We purchased that pump in July 2017. We have continued to use that pump and have experienced no problems.”

The new pumps will be purchased from the Penn Valley Pump Company, which was the vendor for the old ones and for the pumps in the Somesville plant. According to the company, the new ones have a life expectancy of four to five years, and because of their simpler design, replacement parts are less expensive.

“These pumps also operate at half the speed of the old pumps while pumping the same amount of water,” Montague said. “The lower operational speed reduces fatigue on the pump and saves on energy costs.”

He said in his memo to Smith that, if the selectmen approved the purchase, the new pumps would be installed this winter.

“Our staff installed the first replacement pump flawlessly,” he said. “The pump was inspected after the installation by Preston Campbell [vice president of sales and marketing] of Penn Valley, and he remarked how impressed he was with our staff.”

The money to replace the two old sludge pumps will come from the Public Works Department’s wastewater capital improvement reserve account.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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