COUNCIL BLUFFS — If you noticed a Black Hawk helicopter circling the city Friday afternoon, relax.
The chopper was not ominous sign, but a helicopter on a work mission.
Members of the Iowa National Guard used the Black Hawk to assist Council Bluffs officials in removing two broken pumps from a storm sewer pump station near the levee.
Public Works Operations Director Pat Miller said the pump station, which covers the storm sewers in the Twin City and Malmore Acres neighborhoods, has three 30,000 gallon-per-minute pumps on site.
The first pump broke earlier this week. “It was cycling on constantly,” Miller said. “They were never designed to be in this situation.”
Miller said the pumps were design to blast water out of the station, rest and wait to fill up again before ejecting more water. However, with the high water on the Missouri River, the pumps have been running non-stop.
After the first pump failed, a second pump took over. Then that pump failed.
Miller said a 12-inch pump was brought in to do the cycling work for the station. The third pump remains operational. An additional 10-inch pump will be brought to site, as well.
The Black Hawk removed the two pumps from the station Friday. Miller said that normally the pumps would have been removed with a crane.
“The pumps weigh 5,500 pounds each, and the crane about 60,000 pounds. If it was dry, we might have used a crane, but the levees are too saturated on the bottom,” he said.
The city tried to find a local helicopter contractor to do the work, but when that failed, they turned to the Iowa National Guard.
The broken pumps will be shipped to Minnesota for repairs; Miller said it would take at least two weeks before they are returned and re-set by helicopter.
Until they are repaired, Miller said, the temporary pumps and the remaining 30,000 gallon-per-minute pump would be able to handle the load from the storm sewers.