Category: Lift Station

The prefabricated house built at Metropolitan, complete with control system and generator is delivered and placed on-site in Oak Brook, IL.

Rather than digging deeper trenches for gravity sewers – a process that can become costly due to associated excavation costs – lift stations move wastewater from lower to higher elevations. Though the basic components of lift stations, including wet wells, valve vaults, and dry-pits, have remained fairly consistent over the last several decades, technology, design, and construction methods have also improved, leading to better lift station options from the standpoint of maintenance, functionality, and safety.

Recently, the city of Oak Brook, Illinois, in conjunction with Flagg Creek Water Reclamation District (WRD), evaluated the aging infrastructure on its collection system and decided it was time to modernize two of its aging lift stations by upgrading the system to be more powerful, more reliable, and easier to maintain. However, moving from two duplex (2 pump) stations to a single triplex (3 pump) station is a fairly larger undertaking. When seeking proposals for this project, the city needed to ensure that design and execution of the new lift station would progress seamlessly and without interruption to the existing stations (until after the new system was fully operational). This demanding scenario meant, in turn, that the contractor selected for this project would need to be able to rely on a respected name for the station’s most critical components.

A Single Source for Responsibility

Often times, the design and construction of a lift station faces a couple primary challenges. First, if the necessary components are sourced from multiple manufacturers (e.g. pumps from Company A, controls from Company B, etc.), responsibility is spread out, making it confusing to determine who to call for serving. Second, as these stations live in the elements, weather can add to construction delays, especially in regions affected by sub-zero temperatures in the winter. In the long run, both of these factors can lead to increased costs, be it from a lack of coordination or extended delays.

In Oak Brook and elsewhere, Metropolitan Industries solves both of these challenges. With 60 years of experience in the industry, we are proud to offer single source responsibility. For the new “Midwest/Tall Tress” lift station, that meant providing all guide rail components in the wet well, custom access hatches, discharge elbows at the base, three 48hp pumps, level controls, flow meters, and our unique above ground control station. Here, the contractor provided the concrete wet well and valve vault, but Metropolitan can provide those as well (fiberglass, coated steel, or stainless steel) if the project requires/allows.

In addition to the peace of mind that results in a single, trusted supplier, sourcing all critical components from Metropolitan simplifies servicing for the owner. In fact, Metropolitan’s 24/7 service and large parts inventory makes the entire servicing process as seamless as possible. However, being all too familiar with the burden of Midwestern winters, we take the idea of “under one roof” a step further.

Interior of the Oak Brook prefabricated house.

One Roof Under One Roof

The existing Flagg Creek WRD lift stations were aging and therefore costly to maintain due to the frequency of maintenance required and the number of municipal employees required to complete the tasks. In part, this was due to the old lift stations relying on a dry pit/wet pit design, which created a confined entry workspace. To eliminate this hazard and ease servicing, we moved the controls above ground using Metropolitan’s complete control building solution. With a full range of customization options – including PLC controls, UL listings, exterior finishes, cranes, and generators such as the 175 kW natural gas generator installed in this precast concrete building, our rooms offer complete control solutions. This simplifies year-round servicing and improves the operator experience and equipment reliability. Though we also offer solutions that do not include the full building, this approach can often prolong equipment life and save money in the long run. Best of all, every Metropolitan control room is 100% prefabricated and not weather dependent at the time of construction or installation.

By building every control station on-site inside Metropolitan’s Illinois facility, weather delays become a thing of the past. This full service approach allows us to ensure the quality of every cubic foot, rain or shine, while decreasing the need for field labor and producing a “plug-and-play” system that can then be shipped to the lift station site and connected with ease. For Flagg Creek, this prefabricated, custom approach also helped to ensure the new lift station could be up and running as quickly as possible with minimal field work required.

Today, local residents and the Flagg Creek WRD can rely on a system that is prepared to handle the future growth of the area, and the district can rest easy knowing the new system was designed specifically for them and built with precision. Now it is probably fair to say that things are more up to date for the residents of Oak Brook and we were happy to be part of the team that worked diligently to make that possible.

Published in January 2014 Issue of WaterWorld Magazine

Lift station controls before the upgrade took place.

Lift station controls before the upgrade took place.

Expectation of future residential and industrial expansion to the City of Rock Falls, Ill. has contributed to the need for a recent upgrade to a 50 year old lift station. The station, built in the 1960s, was antiquated and the decision to install a more reliable lift station could not have come at a better time.

A renovation to the Rock Falls Water Reclamation Facility, completed in July 2011, brought an opportunity to upgrade the City’s lift stations as well. Metropolitan supplied new Control Panels to all ten of Rock Falls lift stations. The city chose Metropolitan Industries to provide an efficient and more versatile controller, the LMS II, an intuitive, pre-programmed wet well level controller that gives users access to basic SCADA features.

The LMS II was installed to provide the city with a more reliable way to remotely access data, which Superintendent of the City of Rock Falls Water Reclamation Facility, Ed Cox, describes as the best decision the City ever made.

“The WWTP and collection system was far behind in software innovations,” Cox said, “the LMS II helps save us time and gives us the ability to view trends.”

Working with engineering firm, Willett Hofmann & Associates of Dixon, Ill. and Metropolitan Industries Municipal Salesperson, Dan Howorth, Cox knew the LMS II was something that was going to positively change the City’s system.

Lift station controls installed next to the original station allowing for a seamless transfer.

Lift station controls installed next to the original station allowing for a seamless transfer.

“The LMS II has given our personnel the opportunity to respond better to alarms,” said Cox, “We can see exactly what the problem is before driving out to any of the stations, which in return has allowed us to save time throughout our day.”

The LMS II product was installed in the city’s largest lift station, which services 1/3 of the people of Rock Falls. The upgrade has provided many benefits, including saving monthly water costs.

As an upgraded version of the control panels that were previously installed in the Rock Falls Lift Stations, the LMS II has many cost saving benefits; assists with the day-to-day operations; and provides a better data collection system.

“All ten of our stations are supplied with Metropolitan panels,” Cox said, “The goal now is to slowly integrate the LMS II into the rest of the Rock Falls stations.”

The upgrade to the lift station is complete with two running pumps with the capability to run a third pump for the City’s future expansion.

The original station was an underground dry-pit station that could not be entered into without confined space measures. The station was at full capacity and could not handle any additional flow with the industrial park expanding. The controls were underground and were under constant flooding danger.

The new station was built next to the original station, which allowed for a seamless transfer. There wasn’t any concern with the stopped process of water because the original station was running until the switch to the new station was made.

“That’s the goal, we wanted to flip a switch and have no one in the world know what was done, or changed,” Cox said “And that happened with this project.  We had tremendous customer service with Metropolitan, they were there every step of the way. Informing us of delays and immediately handling any concerns,” he added, “this was a job I didn’t have to worry about because I could trust in Metropolitan to get it done, and that made me really happy.”

The project adheres to Metropolitan’s mission to provide the customer with the utmost attention and satisfaction, while also providing a smooth transition to an upgraded system.

Entering a confined space for system repair is a dangerous procedure, particularly due to accumulated gases that may be hazardous. At Metropolitan, we can provide solutions to decrease the frequency of entering a confined space.

Now more than ever, municipalities are addressing the dangers of below ground pump stations to protect both entrants into confined spaces and the investment of systems themselves. The United States Department of Labor requires a permit for those seeking to enter confined spaces for system repair, accompanied by rigorous guidelines those involved with the entry must follow.

Moreover, flooding of below ground pump systems can lead to catastrophic damage of the systems themselves, often costing municipalities a great deal for repair or even replacement, and can lead to an emergency service call.

Metropolitan Industries recently renovated three below ground pump stations, giving each customer the ability to interface with the controls without entering the confined space. Another advantage of “above grade controls” is the avoidance of control system damage caused by a vault flood. Potential future projects such as submersible pump retro-fit into the existing wet well would be the next appropriate step to completely eliminate confined space entry.

City of Calumet City, Ill.

The City of Calumet City, Ill. recently came to Metropolitan for an emergency rehabilitation project following the flooding of a below ground water pump station.

“Metropolitan suspects the reservoir fill valve stuck open causing an overflow condition, thus filling the below ground pump station with water,” said Metropolitan salesperson Keith Girup. “The existing booster station was constructed many years ago when below ground systems were common. Metropolitan was able to repair and replace equipment quickly, and in the process improve the operation and energy-efficiency of the station by implementing variable frequency drives for constant pressure control.”

Another new piece of equipment included in the upgrade was a low-flow shutdown bladder storage tank.

“The new bladder tank supports the water system leak loads during low flow periods of time,” Girup said.

The system was also integrated into a city-wide SCADA system for enhanced monitoring and alarm notification. A flood switch was added to the pump room to ensure notification is provided in the event of a flood since the pumps remain in the below ground vault and are subjected to the hazards associated with such a location.

The primary advantages of the system upgrades are the reduced frequency of entering a confined space and overall protection of the equipment.

South Palos Sanitary District

Metropolitan recently completed a similar project for the South Palos Sanitary District.

“In this project, the customer decided to keep their drywell pumps below ground, but implemented above grade controls into a new prefabricated concrete building with an exposed aggregate finish,” said Girup. “The prefabricated building contains the controls, generator and a temperature control device, essentially eliminating the need to enter below ground in order to interface with the controls.”

Girup said that because the customer has decided to keep the drywell pumps below ground, it will still be necessary to go below ground to maintain the pumps. However, the frequency of confined space entry has decreased dramatically with the implementation of above ground controls.

“Safety and common sense are the reasons for upgrading to above grade systems,” said Girup. “Going into a confined space requires special procedures with two individuals, safety harnesses and gas monitoring equipment at a minimum to ensure safety. If precautions are not followed, consequences could be fatal.”

Village of Burr Ridge, Ill.

The Village of Burr Ridge, Ill. also called upon Metropolitan for a below ground lift station upgrade.

Metropolitan implemented an above ground traffic box for this particular project, placing all controls and electrical distribution equipment above ground.

“The customer has intentions to replace the existing pumps with submersible pumps, however, this project was phase one, which included the above grade controls to significantly reduce the amount of times they would need to go below ground,” said Girup. “In the previous configuration, the customer was going down into the pit quite often to monitor controls, but with our upgrade, they no longer have to do so.”


With each upgrade, the customer not only gained capital investment protection by implementing above grade control systems to protect controls from potential below ground flooding, they also improved safety conditions by reducing the frequency of confined space entry.

Entering a confined space is a major process with strict guidelines which, if not followed, can produce fatal consequences. Metropolitan can provide both investment protection and overall safety with above ground system retro-fit solutions.

For more information, please contact Keith Girup at 800-323-1665, ext. 264 or

MetroMail™ is an economical option for customers seeking basic monitoring equipment.

Metropolitan Industries recently completed a stand-alone version of MetroMail™, the company’s very own alarm notification system. The company will receive alarm notification via text message and/ or email through the internet.

When implemented to monitor any pump or electrical system, MetroMail™ has the capability to send email alerts to notify users of equipment status or problems, and can assist customers in avoiding potential disaster when troubles arise.

“Users can configure MetroMail™ to send an email at an interval completely configurable by users out through the device’s Ethernet jack and through the Internet,” said Metropolitan Industries software engineer Joe Burza. “In other words, if you have your laptop on you or you’re carrying a device with email capability, you can receive a message that a problem with your pump has occurred instead of waiting for the water to back up and start flooding.”

MetroMail™ features eight optically isolated dry inputs accepting 10 to 30 volts of AC or DC power. The unit’s status light tells users whether the unit has power, is properly configured and is sending emails, whereas network lights indicate LAN activity and connectivity. Its onboard web server allows for the configuration of messages, addresses and other settings via any web browser.

A MetroMail™ unit was recently installed at a jail located in northwest Indiana. Metropolitan was contacted by Keough Mechanical for the project, who wished to upgrade the existing lift station due to clogged pumps reported by detention center officials.

The lift station in need of attention was responsible for all of the sanitary waste from the facility. Detained members knew of its function and would routinely disrupt the operation of the pump system by flushing items that would typically be disposed of in a garbage can.

After Metropolitan salesperson Keith Girup made a field visit with the owner and contractor to discuss the problem with the operators and evaluate the obstacles associated with the retrofit upgrade, it was determined that an impeller change would be the most suitable solution to significantly reduce and potentially eliminate the clogging issues.

While Metropolitan was helping solve the mechanical issues the facility faced, new controls with email notification were also proposed.

In order to provide this notification, Metropolitan included MetroMail™, which contacts personnel by email in the event of a lift station alarm condition. An operator interface with Internet connectivity via a cellular modem was also included.

These control features allow for quick response during an alarm condition with 24-hour supervisory ability.

MetroMail™ offers customers a cost-effective option for basic monitoring equipment when more expensive options are not practical. Its convenient size also gives customers the flexibility to monitor equipment when space is a concern.

For more information regarding MetroMail™, please contact Keith Girup at 800-323-1665, ext. 264 or

Working with a below ground pump system and faced with the dangers associated with entering a confined space, the village of Hoffman Estates, Ill. turned to the trio of Metropolitan Industries, Inc., of Romeoville, Ill., engineer Burns & McDonnell of Chicago, Ill. and Bolder Contractors, Inc. of Deerfield, Ill. to deliver an above ground solution.

“The previous system the village employed was a below ground pump station in which water operators needed to travel below ground, and service the station in a confined space,” said Metropolitan salesperson Ken Turnquist. “Our design team not only supplied three brand new submersible pumps, we also provided new controls consisting of a control panel with a color operator interface, SCADA panel, flow meter converter, submersible transducer and three 100 HP variable frequency drives. All controls were housed in a large stainless steel mounted traffic box.”

Each of the three pumps has a pumping capacity of 1900 GPM at 100 feet of TDH, and four-inch diameter solids handling capability. Each pump motor is rated at 100 HP, 1750 RPM, 460 volt, three-phase and 60 Hz.

A large stainless steel traffic box housing all controls and permanent standby generator were part of the supplied package.

Installation included the addition of a new valve vault and the reuse of an existing oval-shaped wet well to accept the new triplex system. A permanent standby 250 kW diesel-fueled generator was also included with the package. The generator’s 600 amp automatic transfer switch was placed in the traffic box.

Additional accessories included a 48-inch by 108-inch safety grate hatch for wet well access and a 36-inch by 64-inch safety grate hatch for valve vault access.

To ensure safety, access hatches were added for wet well and valve vault access.

Turnquist said the above ground traffic box provides the village with a safer method of interfacing with controls.

“Confined spaces present serious dangers for those who need go below ground to service pumps, interact with controls and more,” said Turnquist. “If safety precautions are not followed with great care, consequences could be serious. The implementation of above ground controls significantly reduces the frequency water operators will need to enter a confined space.”

An additional advantage of above ground controls is investment protection.

“Having controls below ground opens the door to potential system damage with the danger of vault floods,” said Turnquist. “Placing controls above ground eliminates the hazards associated with placing them below ground and ultimately improves the longevity of equipment.”

Turnquist said the variable frequency drives, which slow down or speed up pumps, can possibly offer a reduction in energy costs.

Controls were specified by engineer Burns & McDonnell and supplied by Metropolitan Industries. Metropolitan also supplied the traffic box complete with all controls, which was transported to the village in two parts and eventually combined into one onsite.

“Because of the nature of the specified controls, we needed to construct a double, back-to-back traffic box,” said Turnquist. “It was one of the largest Metropolitan has ever provided and Bolder Contractors, Inc. did a great job ensuring its delivery and installation was well-organized.”

For more information, please contact Ken Turnquist at 800-323-1665 or

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