Maintenance gives way to prayers at ancient Breckenridge MN water plant

By Robin Huebner, for Inforum

May 30, 2017

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Jim Bogenreif starts work at the city water treatment plant here the same way every day, with a prayer.

After saying his prayer, Bogenreif then checks the aging pipes at the plant where he's worked for 38 years, the last 18 of them as superintendent. Some of the equipment there is so old the original manufacturer would like to have it for their company museum.

"All I'm listening for is water and hoping that nothing is leaking," Bogenreif said.

Bogenreif and Neil Crocker, Breckenridge's public service director, are keeping a close eye on both the antiquated equipment in the nearly 90-year-old plant and a state bonding bill under consideration in the Minnesota Legislature.

Bogenreif has posted signs in several areas of the plant, warning others about trip hazards like concrete dividers and open metal grates. "There's nothing in OSHA compliance here," Crocker said, referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that regulates workplace safety.

Some safety improvements have been made, but in other cases, the warning signs have to suffice.The plant uses a freight elevator built in 1943 to haul water treatment chemicals up to the second floor.

A piece of equipment that drives a chemical mixer is long obsolete. "I can't get parts for this," Bogenreif said. "If this goes down, I'm kind of in a bad spot."

The same was true for a valve control panel taken out of commission a few years ago. When the city called the manufacturer about fixing the panel, company officials were astonished.

"They asked to have it back to put it in their corporate museum," Crocker said.

Read the full story.

 

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