Ventnor will purchase a Vactor truck similar to this one.

VENTNOR – The city is purchasing Vactor Unit Street Cleaner to help clear debris that collects in sanitary sewers and storm drains. The truck is expensive but is needed to extend the life the city’s sewer system, officials said.

According to Ventnor Water and Sewer Department Supervisor Ernie Gratz, the city researched the $367,263 purchase over the last eight months and received information from three vendors based on price, training, maintenance and the truck itself, he said.

The city selected a smaller truck that will fit down some of Ventnor’s narrow streets. The vendor will provide training for employees, not only on the truck’s operations but also for mechanics to perform repairs when needed.

“It will actually save us money. We will be able to get ahead of our collection system. We won’t have to rely on calling someone in our time of need. We will be able to go around and visit each and every manhole and storm drain. That way, we can get a real handle on our system,” Gratz said.

The city currently uses a 30-year-old smaller version on a pull-along trailer, but its usage is labor intensive and it is not powerful enough to tackle all the jobs that need to be done, Commissioner Lance Landgraf said.

Landgraf said the truck will likely be used daily. The city has been inundated with sewer line breaks along its aging infrastructure system. The truck will provide daily maintenance of the lines, which should help keep them clear and reduce nuisance flooding. It can also be used to video pipes to diagnose problems.

The city currently spends about $2,000 every time a pipe needs to be videoed, Landgraf said.

“We spent $40,000 last year to video pipe,” Gratz said. “Over time, it will definitely pay for itself.”

In addition to cleaning the lines, the truck will be able to do water excavations, which can protect pipes during road openings. Gratz said he believes the state will eliminate the use of backhoes for excavation over the next 10 years to prevent damage to underground utilities.

Solicitor Tim Maguire said the city should check with FEMA’s Community Rating System, which provides discounts on the cost of homeowners’ flood insurance policies. The CRS system awards points to municipalities that work to establish resiliency against future storm events through regular street-sweeping and stormwater system maintenance, he said.

Commissioner Tim Kriebel said the city is being “pro-active” with the purchase and trying to avoid emergencies through regular stormwater maintenance.

The city will purchase the Vactor Unit Street Cleaner through its cooperative purchasing agreement with the Houston Galveston Area Council Cooperative Program. H.A. DeHart and Son of West Deptford will build the truck to the city’s specifications and it will take several months to build.

The city will finance the purchase through previously approved bond ordinances.

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