Residents can face dangerous flooding in 20 minutes if city pumpstations and floodwall systems fail, according to Benwood Mayor Ed Kuca and Police Chief Frank Longwell.
This threat has the city spending more than $20,000 this spring to make updates to its pumpstations. This is on top of $450,000 already spent in 2008, said Kuca and Longwell.
The floodwall system built in 1982 has protected the Benwood from severe flooding following threats in 1996, 2004 and 2005, Longwell noted.
Photo by Joselyn King
Benwood Mayor Ed Kuca, left, and Police Chief Frank Longwell check in on progress to upgrades at the Fourth Street pump station.
"As a public safety official, I know the floodwall needs to be in compliance," he said. "Failure is not an option."
The floodwall system starts to work in Benwood when the height of the Ohio River is at 36 feet, Kuca said. Without the floodwall, Benwood floods when the river is at 42 feet. The safety measures are designed to keep the city dry even if the river reaches 55 feet, officials said.
The water has been as high as 48 feet since the floodwall was constructed, Kuca noted.
In 2008, new variable speed motors and an emergency generator were installed within the floodwall system, Longwell and Kuca said. CEI Inspection then surveyed the floodwall system in the summer of 2011 and suggested some additional items needed to be completed to maintain the project.
This year, most of the upgrades are being completed at the Fourth Street station, with an estimated price of $15,935 for work at that site.
The existing pump controller there and the electrical service will be demolished. New electrical service is to be installed, including conduit mast, meter socket, a stainless steel disconnect switch and cabling, as well as trench work to connect the pump station to American Electric Power's utility pole.
Plans also call for a new pump controller to be connected to existing float switch controls.
Ground rods and cable will be installed at all three pump stations to ground the fence and existing electrical equipment, while a test will be performed on the existing electric system. This work will cost another $4,154, bringing the total price of the improvements to $20,089.