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High water demand busts pump

Rotterdam purchases new motor for $14k, repairs busted motor for backup

— The effects of hot, dry weather came into very real focus recently, when one of the electric pump motors in Rotterdam Water District 5’s water treatment plant on Rice Road ran for 16 days nonstop before it cracked from the stress on Monday, July 9.

After the 300 horsepower motor failed, the town enacted a second watering ban until Tuesday, July 17, but increased demand continued to stress the district’s water supply.

The town lifted the ban a day early after a new pump motor was installed and tested, which Supervisor Harry Buffardi said cost $14,000. Also, the town is rebuilding the failed motor at a cost of $5,000 to have a spare on hand for future incidents, Town Water Plant Operator Clark Collins said.

The failed motor served the town’s largest water district consisting of about 26,000 residents in approximately 11,000 homes, according to Collins. The three remaining motors picked up the slack after the pump failed.

During the 16-day stretch he said the plant was pumping almost 9 million gallons a day, almost triple the average peak. When people aren’t watering outdoors, he said only 3.5 million gallons of water are used daily.

Collins suspects residents were not adhering to town sprinkling regulations, which lead to an increased demand as temperatures soared and lawns simmered.

“That is really basically almost 6 million gallons of water to water lawns a day,” he said,

Collins said the failed motor isn’t old, but the constant push became too much for it. The motor is being disassembled and evaluated by town employees to determine why it failed.

“Anytime you run anything for long, long periods of time anything can happen,” Collins said. “It is just one of those things you don’t foresee happening.”

Collins said there needs to be a balance between maintaining lawns and following restrictions to help maintain reserves.

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