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story.lead_photo.caption The Route O lift station helps propel much of Fulton's wastewater toward the city's wastewater treatment plant. Beginning soon, the lift station will undergo a $400,000 renovation project. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Improvements to the lift station at Route O are somewhat above budget, but still below an initial estimate, Fulton Superintendent of Utilities Darrel Dunlap said.

Dunlap updated the Fulton City Council about the project during Tuesday evening's meeting. Council members approved about $400,000 in spending on the project in July.

"About $602,000 is what we've spent so far," Dunlap said. "I feel we're going to come in at less than $750,000 — which is still more than a 50 percent savings on the original estimate."

The city contracted with Vandevanter Engineering on the project after another consultant estimated the cost at $1.6 million.

Lift stations use pumps to move wastewater from a lower to a higher elevation. This one's pumps are well past their intended lifespan, Dunlap told the Public Utilities Board at the June meeting.

The Route O station was built in the early 1980s and serves about half of the community. At least 700,000 gallons of wastewater flows through the station on an average day. During heavy rain, the volume can increase to millions of gallons.

Vandevanter's tasks included replacing the existing dry pit pumps with larger submersible pumps, allowing the main pump station to be shut down for repairs without disrupting the flow. The site will also be equipped with new controls and an electrical system including a new generator.

As part of the company's bid, Vandevanter offered to install the pump, electrical system and controls; a five-year pump warranty with a two-year maintenance agreement; and assistance with the design and layout of piping, valves, vaults and the wet well.

"We've laid about 2,200-2,300 of force main so far, and we hit rock on the last 500 feet of the line," Dunlap said.

Vandevanter has dug a giant hole to house the new wet well. Dunlap joked one of the few upsides to digging through rocky soil is the lower risk of collapse in the current soggy weather.

The contractor has also acquired the concrete boxes that will protect the wet well and vault from the surrounding soil. Dunlap estimates the boxes will cost another $30,000-$40,000 (not included in the $602,000 spent so far), and valves and piping for the entire project will cost about $100,000.

"I think this'll take about 90 working days from the first week of February to complete — but that's 90 working days," Dunlap emphasized.

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