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Dave Olson, Published December 10 2012

Work on Moorhead pump station wraps up

MOORHEAD – Moorhead Public Service will soon wrap up a project that aims to protect the city’s main source of water from flood threats.

The work, which began earlier this year, upgrades the existing river intake and pumping station at 14th Avenue South and the Red River.

The pumping station, built in the 1950s, has been prone to flooding.

It operated at reduced capacity for more than a month during the 1997 flood and again during the area’s record flood of 2009, when the Red River reached 40.84 feet.

With the old intake structure located directly on the river bank, it was prone to clogging from sticks and leaves.

During periods of heavy rain, it would draw storm runoff released from a nearby storm sewer outflow.

The project raises pumping equipment about 10 feet, making it safe to a river stage of 45 feet.

The inlet structure is being moved to the center of the river, where it will be less likely to clog or be affected by storm sewer runoff, said Bill Schwandt, MPS general manager.

“The building itself actually can have water all the way around it now,” he said of the pumping station.

“Everything will be out of the flood’s way.”

To allow easier installation of the river intake structure, workers built a temporary cofferdam by driving sheet metal into the river bed, forming a semi-dry spot in the middle of the river.

Work on the intake is expected to be completed in a few weeks, Schwandt said.

After that, a new liner will be put inside a large concrete pipe that has been in place for about 50 years and which connects the intake structure to the pumping station.

Schwandt described the liner as a large sock that will be inflated with hot steam.

The liner will then harden in place, sealing any potential leaks and reinforcing the strength of the concrete pipe it lines.

The project’s estimated price tag of $3 million will be handled primarily by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which covered 75 percent of the cost.

The rest will be covered by Moorhead water rates.

“It was nice,” Schwandt said of the federal grant. “Instead of paying 100 percent, we paid 25 percent.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555