Crews complete wastewater improvements

Correcting problems with the city’s inflow and infiltration of groundwater and rainwater was the main goal of improvements made to Sabetha’s wastewater collection system. Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer said the improvements are on target to do just that.

Inflow is water that gets in from the direct connection, while infiltration is water that has soaked into the ground and finds its way into cracks. Historically, these have been problems for the city. The most severe problems are the areas affected by the Keim lift station, which covers the northern part of the collection system and the Kellenberger lift station, which covers the east side of the covered bridge and handles the southwest and west portions of the collection system.

The Keim and Kellenberger lift stations have previously struggled with pumping at the original capacity intended, which caused overflowing after extreme rainfall in the affected areas. With the improvements to the wastewater collection system, the inflow and infiltration will be corrected.

Now that the project is substantially completed, Shroyer said, there have been no major problems and he does not expect any.

“But it is a fluid situation,” he said. “There may be some problem at some point.”

Lift stations are mechanical, Shroyer said, and there is no guarantee that they won’t run over after a heavy rain — even with the improvements. This is normal, he said, and some are expected.

“Every city in Kansas will have runovers with their systems, but we’re hoping that the frequency on the bypasses of the lift stations is cut down considerably,” he said. “Hopefully, we will see less events than in the past.”

Project Cost

The cost of the project came in at $1,332,895.06, which is over the initial bid of $1,060,649.50. To date, the city has paid $1,266.250.31, said City Clerk Steve Compo, with the remaining amount to be paid $66,644.75. Shroyer said the city will receive a $50,000 credit toward the project. The remaining bill to the city will be $16,644.75.

Even with the large price tag, this project could save the city money in the long run. With the improvements being made to the wastewater collection system, it is hoped that this will make enough of a difference that it will not be necessary to replace the lift stations.

However, Shroyer said, if that becomes necessary down the line, the city will likely replace them.

“That is a costly project, and we hope to avoid it unless it is absolutely necessary,” he said.


Throughout the wastewater improvement project, streets throughout the city were torn up and yards were disrupted. As part of the contract, the crews must repair anything that was disrupted.

The streets have been repaired, and most of the yards have been re-seeded at this point. Any remaining yards to be re-seeded should be complete in the coming months. Any upkeep and watering of the yards following the re-seeding is the responsibility of the property owners.

The area between Second and Fourth streets is still being worked on, Shroyer said, and this may result in another deduction to the total cost of the project.


The wastewater collection system improvements were required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

When KDHE received complaints concerning two of Sabetha’s seven lift stations — Keim and Kellenberger — the city was put under a Consent Order in 2011 to eliminate as much of the inflow and infiltration as possible.

Schwab Eaton, a professional engineering and design firm out of Manhattan, was hired to create a plan from all the data that the City of Sabetha crews compiled after completing the smoke testing and closed circuit televising of the entire collection system.

Also completed was an inspection of all residents and businesses in Sabetha to identify any sump pumps that were connected to the sanitary sewer system, which were then disconnected. All manholes were inspected and assessed to determine any sources of inflow and infiltration as well.

In 2015, Schwab Eaton identified areas that were Priority 1 and Priority 2 collection system improvements. Priority 1 improvements were very obvious problems that must be repaired, while Priority 2 improvements were not nearly as aggressive.

In November 2016, the city began a 300-day contract with J & K Contracting of Junction City to complete point repairs — areas that are dug up and repaired. Along with J & K Contracting, Visu-Sewer, Inc. was contracted to correct cured-in-place (CIP) projects.

Substantial completion of the project was required by Aug. 28, and that goal was met. The remainder of the clean-up will hopefully be taken care of in the coming weeks.

Shroyer said the city was lucky to have the state work with them for the past several years on this project.

“It was a stairstep process,” he said. “But we are lucky they were willing to work through this with us.”

Krista Wasinger70 Posts

Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and four children.


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