By Tim Cox
The new sewer system that serves Burkettsville and New Weston had its high-tech telemetery zapped in a lightning strike earlier this summer, resulting in up to $30,000 in damage.
The sewer pump station located at the intersection of state Route 118 and state Route 319 (Mercer/Darke County line) took a direct strike during a June 30 thunderstorm, Mercer County sanitary sewer manager Kent Hinton said. The strike melted a computer board and knocked out some other meters and other equipment used to manage the station.
Hinton estimated the damage at $22,000-$30,000.
The sewer system is owned by the people of Burkettsville and New Weston but is managed under contract by Mercer County. It has been in operation less than a year.
The damage was not covered by insurance and will fall to the people of the towns to pay for, county commissioners said last week. Burkettsville Mayor Jim Garke said he did not yet know the full extent of the damage or how the town would pay the bill. The sewer system serves the two villages and effluent is pumped from the damaged station about four miles to the village of St. Henry.
The pump station was back up and running the same day, just without its high-tech support gear. The computerized telemetery allows county officials to closely track the station's performance and even radios them if there are problems that need addressed. Without that equipment, county officials have had to check the station in person daily, Hinton said.
"We can't let it set until they get the money, so we have spent some considerable dollars getting it back up and running," Hinton said.
Repairs are nearly completed, paid for through an advance from the county, Hinton said. Some money still remained in the construction account for maintenance purposes that can be used to pay the bill, he said.
Commissioners said it is commonplace for pump stations to be included on lists of insured property, but that many communities overlook the issue. Even the county went 10 years or more with no insurance on its sewer infrastructure until its was finally added to covered property, Commissioner Jerry Laffin said.