On May 28, 2019, a devastating tornado ripped through the City of Linwood, Kansas that would need long-term assistance from Kansas Rural Water Association (KRWA).
Vehicles were flipped over, homes severely damaged or destroyed and debris spread out everywhere. One consequence, some might not think about, would be the harm that debris could cause the local wastewater facility.
On July 8 KRWA Wastewater Tech Charlie Schwindamann visited the City of Linwood wastewater facility. He helped the city’s Wastewater Operator Robert Bryant conduct a sludge profile and assess the tornado debris damage.
After finding that the loss of capacity in the wastewater cells was between 10 and 16 percent, Schwindamann recommended that the sludge be removed in order to remove all debris left by the tornado.
“There is no way to know all debris will be removed without removing all the sludge as well,” said Schwindamann.
Following up on this project, Schwindamann returned to Linwood on September 3 to assist with removing debris that was plugging the lines between the wastewater cells. Utilizing an inflatable flow-thru plug and pump, they were able to force water from the structures back into the cells to dislodge any debris and open the pipes.
“In cell one we were able to get it opened and found a 6-inch plastic pot floating near the pipe soon after plug was removed and believe this was plugging the line,” reported Schwindamann.
They used the same method for the other cells as well and found possible pieces of insulation floating near the pipe in the cell, presumably what was plugging the pipe. As Linwood and the wastewater facility continue to recover from the damaging effects of the tornado, continued work is likely to be needed on the wastewater cells.
Linwood, Kansas is an example of the tremendous impact natural disasters have, and also the long-lasting effects that they can cause. Rural Water continues to respond to these events and provide assistance to communities and utilities in need.