CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you've been in the area near the intersection of Staples and Everhart, you may have noticed an unpleasant smell.
It's coming from one of the city's oldest lift stations, which send wastewater to one of the city's six treatment plants. The city operates 104 lift stations, which have been in service for an average of 40 years.
Lift Station No. 49, the one at Staples and Everhart, has been running for more than 53 years.
The city’s Director of Water Utilities told KRIS Communications the lift station in question has a lifespan of “around 50 years”, but the city's capital improvement plan says a lift station's useful life is 25 years.
Station 49 is functioning, but is showing its age.
“Lift stations are kind of like a human body,” said Kevin Norton, the city's director of water utilities. “We wear out, vehicles wear out over time, lift stations are the same kind of thing over time.”
The station started having problems in 2018. Next month, the council is expected to vote on a replacement.
Recently, the City Manager's office sent a memo asking the council to also consider declaring an emergency for the station to expedite the process.
Norton wouldn’t comment on a potential cost for the project, but the city manager’s memo calls for a $2 million expenditure from the Wastewater Capital Improvement Fund.
One council member wants to know why an emergency is necessary.
“You never want to be surprised with unplanned expenditures, especially when you're dealing with things costing $1.5 million,” said District 5 City Councilman Gil Hernandez.
Since being elected to the council, Hernandez has pushed for proper use of Maximo, the city's automated asset life-cycle management system.
“You have that all in place to where you do preventative maintenance, and then you can plan for capital expenditures 30 years down the road.”
Hernandez says that the city's tracking system should have already tagged this station to be replaced. He says city departments are starting to use it more regularly, which could save the city millions in emergency repairs.
If approved, the new lift station should be up and running by the end of the year.