Out with the old, in with the new

SJ Council approves new wastewater vehicles to better aid storm aftermaths

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it!

■ Jacob Doane / Contributed

In the last few weeks the storms and floods have brought about the realization that our wastewater storm and water divisions are, in terms of equipment, behind the times.
Water and Utilities Superintendent Arthur Mullen spoke about the “Vactor 2100 that has been in service to San Jacinto for 14 years, is used on a daily basis, and is used an average of 10 hours a day.” He goes on to claim the Vactor 2100 as the first and only response to any wastewater emergencies, e.g, broken water mains, sewage backups, and something that was key to controlling recent floods and sewage draining. The only catch is, the purchase of the two vehicles come to a total of $911,595.25.
Resulting from 14 years of service, there are a quite a few issues with the current wastewater vehicles that pose a potential risk to the city in times of need. “The vehicle has been corroded and rusted by sewer water,” says Mullen, “when the vehicle gets clogged it must be decommissioned for three days at a time to clean or replace filters and during this period we have no other emergency response vehicles.” The corrosion is largely due to the car having steel tanks as opposed to the stainless steel the new trucks will have.
Some of the other benefits the wastewater teams were excited to present are the bells and whistles the new “GapVax” brings to the table that greatly increase safety, communication, and efficiency. You may have seen them in the streets, but the wastewater team essentially use a series of hand signals, cell phones, and shouting to communicate from opposite ends of the car. GapVax brings with it a completely hands off communications system, the replacement of levers that often required the team to be standing in traffic, access to electronic panels from multiple points, and the ability to maneuver the vehicle remotely.
Above all else, the car increases the efficiency at which the crew can work. An estimated of 7.5 times its current field effectiveness was given to the council. This would provide the greatest benefit to San Jacinto during floods and storms. Currently there is a 500 gallon tank that after filling requires a 30-45 minute downtime window for the crew to drive to the water reclamation facility and back to the site of the situation. The GapVax brings a 1500 gallon tank by comparison. A 200 percent increase in capacity of storage alone.
To offset the costs, the San Jacinto City Council are determined to use a variety of government funds as well as the $60,000 sale of the current vehicle to aid in the funding process.

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