City eyes purchase of new vacuum truck

A representative of Red Municipal & Industrial Equipment Co., Kansas City, Missouri, drove a vacuum truck to the Parsons City Commission meeting on Monday.

Parsons city commissioners on Monday discussed the proposed purchase of a vacuum truck that was built for the city of Chanute.

The commissioners didn’t make a decision on the purchase but likely will in the near future.

Derek Clevenger, director of utilities, said the city bought a Vactor vacuum truck in 2010 for $284,865. The truck had problems from the start, and problems continued after the two-year warranty expired. The city has spent over $70,000 on repairs. The truck is now functional, but it’s not being used because some part is bound to break, he said.

Clevenger was considering requesting a new vacuum truck and wanted to change brands to Vac-Con when a Red Municipal & Industrial Equipment Co. sales representative asked if Parsons was interested in buying the truck built for Chanute.

The truck was ordered through a program that secures government contracts by seeking bids from companies, eliminating the need for government entities to go through the bid process.

Red Equipment, a Kansas City, Missouri, company, is offering to sell the Vac-Con for $365,000, and would take the city’s old Vactor on trade-in for $100,000. Clevenger said a new Vactor with the same specifications would cost about $415,000.

Levi Williams, a Red Equipment sales representative, said Monday that a city of Chanute employee had been trying to get Chanute to buy a Vac-Con and thought the city commission would agree to it, so Red Equipment built the truck, but then the purchase was denied. Red Equipment is offering Parsons a $700 discount on the truck.

Parsons has another Vactor truck in use, but the city needs one specifically to run electric scanning tests on the sewer system, Clevenger said. The city is under an EPA order to eliminate untreated water bypassing the wastewater treatment plant. A major part of the plan is to reline cracked sewer lines to keep stormwater from seeping into the sewage system.

The city bought an electric scanning system a few months ago. The vacuum truck is used to push the scanning instrument through sewer lines. It holds water back with a cone and shoots out a 360-degree electrical current. If electricity escapes the pipe, there is a leak. The city previously used a camera to check for leaks, but the electric scanning method is more accurate, eliminating the possibility of a worker missing a leak on video.

Clevenger said one vacuum truck is needed for regular cleaning of pipes while another is needed just for electric scanning. The city is supposed to clean a quarter of a mile of pipes per year and also cleans upon request from residents.

Commissioner Kevin Cruse said the city has spent millions of dollars on the EPA compliance order and probably will need to spend another $20 million on the sewer lines. Testing the lines for leaks is an integral part of that, he said, and the city needs to report the test results to the EPA.

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