Milford could face major sewer backups or a sewer spill into the Mispillion River unless city officials act quickly to replace a pair of failing sewer pumps, according to city officials.


Milford could face major sewer backups or a sewer spill into the Mispillion River unless city officials act quickly to replace a pair of failing sewer pumps, according to city officials.

“There really is no choice with this thing,” City Manager Richard Carmean said this week. “This is something we simply have to do, and soon.”

Carmean said he is in the process of preparing documents that would allow the city to hire a firm capable of replacing of the sewer pumps located just off of Washington Street.

The pumps are responsible for moving sewage from the southwest section of the city across the Mispillion River to Northeast Front Street, where the city’s main sewer pumping station picks up the effluent and moves it on to the Kent County Wastewater Treatment Facility.

On Monday, Erik Retzlaff, an associate with Milford’s contracted engineering firm Davis Bowen & Friedel, urged City Council to act quickly on the project, which is expected to cost close to $900,000.

“The sewer pumps are in extremely poor shape,” he warned. “They are at the end of their useful life and can no longer keep up.”

Retzlaff said the pumps, which date back to 1977, could fail at any time.

“One of them is out for repairs now and has lost 70 percent of its mass,” he said. “Even once it’s back in service, it will need almost instant replacement.”

Carmean said it is hard to say exactly what would happen if the pumps were to fail.

“It could flow into the river and cause backups all over town,” he said. “It’s really hard to say for certain, but it won’t be a good thing, I can tell you that.”

Carmean, who was re-hired as city manager last December, said money for the project was included in a bond referendum approved by voters in 2008. He said it’s not clear why the project was put off until now.

“It’s been on our priority list for some time, but there are $28 million worth of work on that list,” he said. “We’ve been making repairs here and there, but in the process it’s just gotten really bad.”

One of those stopgap measures included the addition of a bypass valve that allows a private septic company hired by the city to access the incoming sewer line and manually haul away sewage when the pumps reach their capacity.

Carmean said that system is expensive but should prevent a potential environmental disaster until the pumps can be replaced.

Retzlaff said Monday that project also would include a replacement of all internal piping and valves, electrical systems, motor controls and instrumentation, as well as the pump station’s roof. Additional odor control systems also will be added, he said.

City Council is expected to approve a bid package for the project next month.

Carmean said he hopes to have the work underway by August.