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Earle underpass pump needs cleanup

Flood relief system still doing its job

The pump under the railroad underpass in Earle to keep it from flooding is doing its job well, but the basin is in need of some cleaning.

Councilman Bobby Luckett told Water Department Supervisor Danny Clark that he noticed the pump was taking a little longer to pump out the area and seemed to be constantly running.

According to Clark, the pump is working as he designed it, but added that the street department needs to go in and clean out the basin and screen of debris which has accumulated and is slowing the pump down.

“I told you when I put the pump in that it would have to be cleaned out,” Clark told the city council. “It gets clogged with plastic and leaves and stuff like that and it slows the pump down. So it just needs somebody to go in there and clean it out.”

The city spent $14,000 for a heavy duty pump and fixed the concrete and retaining wall to alleviate flooding.

Flooding at the underpass at Main and Commerce Streets had been a problem for years until the new pump was installed. Clark came up with a design for a new concrete basin that allows a backhoe to be able to drive in and scoop out the mud and any debris.

Luckett asked whether the pump was in danger of burning up because of the debris.

Clark told the council that the pump has a breaker on it which shuts the pump off to keep it from constantly running and burning up the motor.

“No, I’ve got it set up on what I call a two pump system,” Clark said “It pumps to a point where it outruns the water coming in then turns off. Then I have it set up on a delay so it doesn’t come back on for say another five minutes, That’s why if it is a hard rain and it is outpumping, it will turn off. That’s what causes the delay in the pumping.”

Clark again reiterated that the street department just needs to check on the pump before it rains to make sure the screen is clear of any debris.

“It doesn’t have to be done every week,” Clark said.

“But if I know there is rain in the forecast they need to go dig it out and make sure it is clean. There needs to be a chalkboard on the wall so that somebody knows to take care if the underpass.

It’s one of those things where you don’t think about it. But somebody needs to just constantly check it.”

Clark said the street department also needs to make sure they rake up the grass clippings when they mow because that clogs the screen.

“I don’t want to sound like I am complaining about the street department,” Clark said. “But one of the biggest problems with that underpass is that they need to pick up the grass because it acts like a wall on that screen. They need to rake it up and haul it off, otherwise it will create a blockage on the screen.”

He also recommended the city consider planting monkey grass along the banks of the concrete retaining walls to keep dirt and debris from getting into the basin.

“If they would plant some of that along the edges of the concrete on each side of the underpass that monkey grass will spread to the whole thing,” Clark said.

“You won’t have any debris. It will stop debris and paper — anything.”

Monkey grass is common in landscaping in the South due to its easy care and low maintenance. The grass grows 10 to 15 inches year round and is used for edging flower beds, borders, and walkways.

“It’s just an idea,” Clark said. “But in about two or three years it will cover that whole thing and look attractive.”

By Mark Randall