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City to Replace Equipment After Lightning Strike Causes $16,000 in Damage

Council gives administrators go-ahead to replace equipment, make insurance claim to recoup losses.

The thunder rolled and the lightning flew at the end of a storm at 8 a.m. July 28, causing around $16,000 in damage at Fenton's water treatment plant. At Monday's work session, the Department of Public Works (DPW) received council's consensus to move ahead with replacing damaged electrical equipment.

It will be an insurance claim, water treatment plant manager Steve Guy said.

There are four pumps that run to the water storage tanks, from which water goes out to customers. The lightning strike made three pumps stop working, DPW Director Daniel Czarnecki said. Guy and an electrical contractor were able to get one of the three damaged pumps running again by the end of the day. Two pumps are now operational.

There was no impact on customers due to the lightning strike.

They were able to take parts from damaged pumps to get the others working, Guy said.

However, there are still problems with two of the four pumps, which are not working. On a couple of occasions in August, due to demand for water, both pumps that work were needed at once, Czarnecki said.

Administrators want to get the damaged parts replaced, finish the insurance claim and get the city's money back, he said.

Instead of taking a lot of time obtaining bids for the damaged pump equipment, they would like to get the repairs done as soon as they can, Guy said. Two drives and two power supplies are needed, and he wants the new parts to be compatible with the current ones so he can switch parts between pumps again if he needs to.

Council members' consensus was to have administration proceed with replacing the electrical equipment.

During Fenton's budget process, council asked the DPW to look at ways to save money in the water treatment process, Czarnecki said.

The new city engineers, OHM, will bring their water staff into Fenton this month to begin looking at how to prevent electrical storm damage at the water treatment plant.

Electrical equipment at the police station and the water treatment plant have suffered lightning damage.

"It almost seems like we're a target," Councilwoman Dianne North said.

Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro said there were three lightning strikes in the area. The consultant Fenton hired to assist with the emergency dispatch equipment upgrade at the police station is developing specifications for grounding the tower there. Aro hopes this will take care of issues and help avoid future damage.

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