A city employee is in critical condition Tuesday after he apparently fell while working at the pumping station next to Cheney Reservoir.
The victim was found at about 1 a.m. Tuesday by a co-worker after he hadn’t been heard from in an extended period, said Alan King, director of public works and utilities for the city.
“We don’t have a lot of details at this point,” King said. “We think it might have been a fall.”
It’s possible the victim may have fallen 20 to 30 feet to the pumping station floor, King said. A Sedgwick County emergency dispatcher said the victim is 59 years old, though King would not confirm that.
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“It could have been hours” before the victim was found after the fall, King said. “They found him on the floor. He was unconscious.”
The pumping station is at 39500 W. 21st Street. There is a two-person crew on-site overnight, King said, while daytime staffing may be about half a dozen.
“They’re taking it pretty hard,” King said of the crew.
The city has dispatched its risk management team to the station to investigate what happened, King said, and Wichita police also have an investigator at the scene.
At the other end of the water delivery system, a second bypass has been completed on the 66-inch line that feeds untreated water into the treatment plant. The section of the line that has a leak has been taken off-line, King reported Monday.
Plans to repair the line are already being developed, King said. But crews are also going to do a condition assessment of the entire 600-foot stretch of the affected line downtown, much of which was built back in the 1940s.
Officials are exploring the possibility of putting new pipe inside the existing pipe to extend its lifespan, King said.
“Our goal is to have repairs completed by March 1,” he said.
That would have the line ready to handle the increased water demands that come with the arrival of spring. Irrigation vaults daily water demand from winter lows of 40 to 50 million gallons a day to more than 100 million gallons a day, he said.
The cost of building the bypass will come to about $600,000, which King said is “pretty close to what we estimated.”