DEL MAR — After more than 10 years of planning and two years of construction, the city celebrated the completion of its 21st Street pump station with a ribbon cutting, tour of the new facility and free-throw contest. “The previous facility was a tin can,” Mayor Carl Hilliard said. “When I was elected to the council (in 2004) one of the first things they did was take me on a tour ‘de la sewer.’ I went down in a one-person elevator and they showed me a line where the sewage rose and almost went into the lagoon.
“It was a really scary trip, actually,” he said. “The parts were so old that we could have financed the replacement by selling them on the antique road show.”
The old station was built in the early 1970s and had long since exceeded its 30-year life expectancy. Plans to replace it began four city managers ago in the late 1990s.
The new facility was created with input from several city sources, including the Parks and Recreation Department, the Design Review Board — twice — and the Energy Issues Advisory Committee.
It includes a half basketball court, a parking lot, a public restroom and landscaping improvements. Construction began in March 2010.
The new pump station, which earned the 2012 Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association, delivers all of Del Mar’s sewage — about 600,000 gallons per day -— to the city of San Diego for treatment.
Most of the $4.4 million project was funded with a state revolving fund loan, a federally backed initiative that allows states to offer low-interest loans to help cities comply with federal Clean Water Act requirements.
When Eric Minicilli, who was named public works director last year, joined the city he was assigned project manager for the new pump station. When he told his wife, she said it sounded exciting.
“I told her, ‘No, the worst thing you want is an exciting pump station,’” Minicilli said. “The first one provided us with plenty of excitement. We’re very pleased with what we have now. No more sleepless nights.”
Minicilli said his department spent years “putting Band-Aids on the other station to get it to this point.”
“I’m glad the tin can is gone,” Hilliard said.