This week contractors started a $1.6 million project to upgrade the sewer-lift station that pumps sewage from downtown condos, Main Street businesses and homes on Lido and Bird keys.
It will take about 11 months to install four more-efficient pumps at Lift Station 16.
As part of the project, the contractor will also install backup diesel pumps that will keep the lift station working in the case of a power shortage. The new backup pumps are considered more reliable than a generator in the case of a storm.
In November 2011, a 20-inch sewer main leading into the lift station broke, leaking 40,000 gallons of sewage into Sarasota Bay. The sewer spill caused the city to immediately replace the line.
The rehabilitated lift station is part of an overall $15 million project to upgrade the pipes and pumps that make up the sewer infrastructure serving most of downtown.
Lift Station 16, on South Gulfstream Avenue across from the bayfront, was built in 1986 and last upgraded 16 years ago.
“It’s nearing the end of its service life,” Sarasota project manager Steve Topovski said of the lift station. “This project will reduce the potential for sewer spills.”
The majority of the work will take place inside the building that houses the lift station, including the electrical panels and instrumentation, as well as replacing the pumps and internal piping.
Most people don’t realize how much is packed into a lift-station building and just how intensive such rehabilitation projects are.
“In the building, it’s packed solid with pipes, the pumps, odor control valves and four separate submersible pumps,” Topovski said.
During construction, a temporary odor control system will be used to minimize any localized odor issues.
“We are downtown,” Topovski said. “We don’t want any smells.”
The improvement work will take place behind a construction fence, and minimal impact is expected to residents, pedestrians and motorists, Topovski said.