By Frank Lewis
The last project standing between the city’s current status with FEMA and the city’s levee certification could be completed Tuesday. Friday workers placed pipe in the oversized space created by the old pipe at the site of pump station 2 on 12th Street in Portsmouth and were planning on filling in the space around it with grout on Monday or Tuesday.
“The problem we had is that we had a sink hole developing because the old pipe was rusted and was letting dirt wash into it,” City Waterworks Director Rick Duncan said. “So the whole pipe was just rusted through. So we got this contactor (Van Dam Associates) to come in and put this new pipe inside the old pipe, then, when he’s done, they’ll put concrete in each end. Then they’ll fill it up with grout.”
Duncan said the flow will be a major improvement because the inside of the new pipe is smooth as opposed to the old pipe which was corrugated.
“We’ll be pretty well done once we get the grouting done,” Mark Puckett, flood defense supervisor said. “We just need to keep an eye on it to make sure everything goes alright.”
As the pipe was secured Derek Boggs went inside the pipe, placed a band where two pieces of the pipe came together, screwed it in then welded it in place on the outside to prevent the pipe from coming apart.
“Any time it rains the rain will come out this pipe and out this channel,” Duncan said. “If the river is up then we have to shut this gate to keep the river from coming back into the city. So if the river starts to get to high then we would start getting water coming back in, so in that case the pumps will pump it over the levee, but it still comes out this pipe.”
After the work is completed does Duncan have an estimate as to when certification will come about?
“I really don’t know,” Duncan said. “The thing that we’re concerned about is that we don’t want any kind of enforcement action or anything to happen. Once we get this submitted then we’ve done our part and they can’t do anything that would affect our flood insurance or anything like that.”
New Boston’s certification has to be done along with the Portsmouth certification and New Boston has been done with their portion of the process for several years.
Village Administrator Steve Hamilton said he had contacted AMEC Engineering, checked their references, then brought them on board.
“They came in. They did their job. They certified us within the time limit we had to have it done,” Hamilton said. “It has been a waiting game but who knew that what would happen in Portsmouth would happen, with the politics, and with the finding of the underseepage. We didn’t know that. Portsmouth didn’t know that.”
Hamilton said he believes the PAL agreement with FEMA that the village signed in 2010 was that the certification was to be done by 2012. I don’t know when Portsmouth signed theirs but I think we signed ours at the same time.
Hamilton said the last thing that has to be done is a roundtable with Portsmouth, New Boston, the Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the National Guard.
“I’m hoping that one roundtable will take care of all of ours and all of Portsmouth, so they will all be behind it,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said Portsmouth is not at fault for the delay, just a series of events that occurred during the process.
“We want to get this behind us as much as Portsmouth does,” Hamilton said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.