Local officials are racing against time to repair the North Richmond Pump Station ahead of the rainy season.
On Tuesday, Richmond City Council voted unanimously to proclaim a local emergency due to the imminent failure of the aging pump station built on West Gertrude Avenue. The pump station was installed in 1974 to prevent flooding in North Richmond. As repairs are urgently needed prior to the return of rainy season this fall, council also approved an $833.315 contract with Petersen Power to perform a pump engine replacement project.
Only one of the four pumps at the station is in operating condition and they must be replaced, city officials say. The station, which is owned jointly by the city (39 percent) and county (61 percent) and maintained by the West County Wastewater District, still has its four original engine-driven pumps, and officials cite budget constraints for why the necessary repairs haven’t happened sooner. As engines failed, “they were scavenged for parts over the years to keep the other engines running,” city staff said in documents.
Currently, only one engine remains operable and so the station is “only capable of a fraction of the pumping capacity needed to prevent flooding of the North Richmond community,” they said.
To pay its portion of the project cost, the city will use funds from its Stormwater Enterprise Fund and Stormwater Impact Fee. The Stormwater Rate Fee has not been increased since 1999 and is currently running a deficit, according to city officials, who recommended the council consider a rate increase.