Errors Necessitate Lift Station at New High School

[Update 12/8/2009: Mr. Gustafson, construction liaison, reports via e-mail that the errors leading to the need for a lift station will cost around $47,000 to correct and that the architects, ATS&R, “will be responsible for these costs.” The correspondence has presented an opportunity to ask about other error reports floating out there, so stay tuned.]

DeKalb Sanitary District, Board of Trustees meeting minutes for October:

[District Manager Mike Zima] informed the Board of the necessity of the installation of a lift station at the site of the new DeKalb High School due to errors in the planning that resulted in the internal sewer being lower than the external sewer.

The Sanitary District will only be involved as far as ensuring that the pit for the sanitary lift station is built to standards (i.e., that it does not leak) according to Mr. Zima. District 428 will be financially responsible for building the station and for maintaining it in perpetuity.

11 thoughts on “Errors Necessitate Lift Station at New High School”

  1. Nice catch Yinn! You know that it would take months for this one to come out. How come this wasn’t an agenda item for the last school board meeting?

    I’m wondering how big of a mistake this is? The subdivision across the street built by Eagle Homes have their own lift station. The school district must have tapped into that sanitary system which should just be across the street. The height of the building shouldn’t have been set until the sewer heights and grades were determined. The high school is on a slab with no basement or crawl space. This should have given them a little leeway.

    The building could have been raised a bit and that was definitely evident by the number of truckloads of dirt that were hauled off the site. Typical big jobsite mentality. Penny wise and dollar foolish but whatever it takes just get it done. This is why when government builds something it costs so much more. I’d like to know the name of the surveyors and engineer on this site and how they allowed this to happen. Why were there no preliminary field checks made?

  2. For those who do not know what a lift station is. It is basically an oversized sump pump pit for sewage. Sewage has to flow to the sanitary district but all the pipes have to be higher than the sewage plant or nothing flows that way. Basically the DeKalb Sanitary Plant is downhill for all the areas sewage.

    Well the further away you get you still have to have the pipe in the ground so far. Lift stations are set up and a hole or pit is set to a low point so that all of the sewers that are using this station will have their sewage flow naturally to the lift. The lift then basically pumps it to a new height so it can all go for another ride towards the sanitary plant. In some cases it may have to go through 2 lift stations I’m not sure if the system as a line anywhere with 3 before getting to the sanitary plant.

    The problem with lift stations is that they are mechanical and need maintenance and repairs. I’m not sure if DeKalb Sanitary is going to demand a generator or not but I would believe there needs to be or if the power goes out school must be let out. I do think that there are plans for a back up generator but it’s been a while since I last looked at the plans.

    Anybody who has a sump pump knows the aggravation and hassle you can have with a sump pump. This is just another maintenance line item that may not have been necessary at all if all were doing their jobs right.

  3. Ivan… the cast iron vs pvc is a separate issue from this lift station? I haven’t had time to track down “The Black Knight’s” tip. Are we talking about two different mix-ups here?

  4. Yes Mac. The cast iron (black pipe) would have nothing to do with requiring a lift station. Somebody just didn’t do the math.

    It’s just amazing to me with the sewer line running along Dresser Road and having 75 acres to build on that this lift station would even be needed if all had been figured correctly. I wonder what Shodeen is going to do. Will they connect to Dresser Road or are they aiming for Sangamon and Bethany where Rivermist’s lift station is?

    Another case of the school literally having the cart in front of the jack@ss (burrow).

    The sewer would have been laid by an excavation company doing outside infrastructure. I believe that to be Wagner Excavation won that bid. This is the bid package that another bidder told me was a mess and not readable. He basically called it the most unprofessional bid package he has ever picked up. This project at $88.5 million is no slouch of a job and this just was not excusable on the school districts part.

    Inside sewer work would be performed by the plumber on the job which I believe to be another local company G’s R plumbing. Usually when doing the plumbing under roof you first shoot the grade that you must connect to and then go to your furthest point where you need a sewer hookup and check those elevations. Dependent on what type of pipe you are using along with size there is a recommended amount of fall or pitch that the pipe must be laid at to keep the “stuff” moving along.

    The footings and foundations should have been held off until all the sewer work and connections had been performed. It would have been easier to adjust the building that way but the surveyors and engineers should have been able to foresee this if they would have been looking and paying attention. I guess the staff at Nicholas isn’t quite the group they led us to believe are they?

  5. Thanks for the information Lynn and Ivan. If this was an engineering / design error, is it possible the architectural firm will be on the hook for the errors?

  6. It all depends on the contract and the way it was written out. The lift station will be referred to as an unforseen. If the school district received and approved the final plans then it could be the school districts problem thus the taxpayers end up on the hook.

    It can get pretty messy but I’m sure the architects have their bases covered with one of their famous exclusions throughout the drawings making the final decisions and changes the school district, the supplier or the subcontractor responsible for problems that occur.

    Architects always push the responsibility off on the contractor stating that he is the one who is building it and should be the one to check for errors and omissions. Bottom line the contractor who really is the school district will probably pay for any changes, corrections or upgrades.

    When I work with an architect, I always redraw their plan myself. This way I get to know the plan and if it will truly work. I have caught many mistakes that way. The Construction Manager, Nicholas was supposed to review these plans and site plans with their architect and engineers. I guess we were bamboozled by Nicholas. We should have stayed General Contractor, in the end it wouldn’t have made a real difference anyways when it comes to how many local contractors, workers, suppliers and shops were used.

  7. I’m still upset with the paying for demographics of the school district and no one seems to pay attention to them if it doesn’t favor their directions and “wish list”.

    Can you have imagined the press and the comments coming out of the adminstrative building if these numbers would have shown any type of growth within the district? But guess what? It didn’t, it said the same exact thing that the demographer for the FPC said and maybe even added a few more sour mentions to growth and the lack of the economy and how empty nesters are taking over.

    Chronicle story …… http://www.daily-chronicle.com/articles/2009/12/01/71510144/index.xml

  8. That is good, That is exactly what should happen here. My question is the lift station going to look like a dog house on the front of th multi million dollar front entrance area or is it just going to be a pit with a cover on it?

    What is the accessibility going to be like in order to get to this during the winter months? I presume it will have to be on the exterior of the building with the above questions. I guess what I’m getting at is whether the architects are going to build this to minimal code or are they going to build it like the DeKalb Sanitary District would require it to be if it were to become their asset?

    This should be done correctly so that it doesn’t become a major cost in the near future for the district taxpayers.

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