Lightning strikes cause $23,000 in damage to water treatment facilities

Published 10:30 am Friday, August 24, 2018

Severe thunderstorms this week led to approximately $23,000 worth of damage after lightning struck equipment at two water treatment facilities in Oxford.

During a special meeting of the Oxford Board of Aldermen Wednesday, the board voted to approve emergency allocation of funds in order to repair the two sites. The water treatment plant on McElroy Drive sustained approximately $3,000 in damage, according to public works director Bart Robinson. A wastewater lift station on Anderson Road sustained approximately $20,000 in damage.

“We can’t (spend that amount) without the Aldermen declaring it an emergency purchase,” Robinson said during the meeting. “We’re still checking with our insurance, but we still have to get this fixed.”

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At the McElroy Drive plant, lightning struck electronic control equipment, according to engineer Russ Heard.

The wastewater lift station, however, sustained more serious damage to all three of its three-phase soft-start starters, Heard said.

“Each one of these starters are 150-horsepower, 480-volt three-phase motors, so these are pretty heavy equipment,” Heard said. “What we’ve done is a bypass, which is still in DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) regulations and everything is still safe. However, these starters were damaged and they need to be replaced.”

Heard also said that, once the equipment is ordered, it takes three to four weeks to be delivered. However, he said, he’s hoping they’re delivered within three weeks.

The Oxford water and water treatment plants departments install and maintain over 205 miles of water lines, operate and maintain above 8 wells and 5 elevated water storage tanks, which hold more than 2,000,000 gallons combined.

The sewer department and lift stations provide sewer service to residents of the city of Oxford, maintaining over 130 miles of sewer lines and 40 sanitary sewer lift stations.