Sewage plant in danger of flooding

By Alyssa Donovan

April 20, 2013 Updated Apr 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM CDT

PEKIN, Ill.-- As the river rises, workers in Pekin are doing what they can to keep the sewage plant flood free.

Reinforcing the levees at the Pekin Wastewater treatment plant was the main concern for city officials on Saturday.

Pekin City Manager Joe Wuellner said, “Our levees are built to the flood level that they're calling for we're just reinforcing them and building them up a foot or so higher to give ourselves a little extra room."

City Engineer Michael Guerra says a big concern is the area that has been under construction.

Guerra said, "With construction of the new plant we've had some holes in our existing levee so the last few days we've been working to kind of patch up any holes that we have so we can protect the plant from getting flooded."

Guerra says if this flood happened after the construction had been completed... The plant probably would be in the clear.

Wuellner said, “Once the plant upgrade is complete the new equipment and everything will be above flood stages and the levies won't be as important."

But until that upgrade is complete... Reinforcing the levees is a must.

Wuellner says the water has gotten pretty high in the past but the levees have always kept most of it out.

City officials say that if the sandbags don't hold not only will the equipment in the plant be damaged, but city sewage treatment may be compromised as well.

Wuellner said, “Essentially the plant would have to be shut down and everything would just divert to the river."

Guerra said, “[We] would have some I.E.P.A. concerns in terms of contamination other than that we could have potential sewer problems if we can't keep the sewers functioning in the city. It could cause potential backups in the basements and other things if we couldn't maintain the sewer systems in the city."

Wuellner says once all of the sandbags are in place... It's just a waiting game to see if they hold.