It was a “full
year” for the Chesterton Utility in 2014, with more than its fair share of
landmarks and milestones.
So President Larry
Brandt reported at the Utility Service Board’s meeting Monday night. “We had
a really good year,” he said. “We had an exciting year.”
Begin with the
federally mandated long term control plan (LTCP) to reduce sewage bypasses
into the Little Calumet River, the linchpin of which is a 1.2-million gallon
storage tank to hold wastewater during heavy rain events.
Since ground broke
on that tank in November 2013, work has progressed more smoothly than anyone
has the right to expect of a $8,471,800 project. The tank and ancillary
improvements are now 60 percent complete, Brandt said, and it’s anticipated
that the tank will be on line and in operation by the middle of 2015, fully
one year ahead of the deadline imposed by the Indiana Department of
The whole of the
three-phase LTCP is also looking to cost far less--maybe 20 percent
less--than the original estimate of $14.9 million, thanks to State Revolving
Fund financing for the first two phases, a strategy which will yield a
savings of $2.7 million in interest payments over the life of the bonds,
Meanwhile, also in
2014, the Ind. 49 utility corridor was completed, which Brandt said promises
to open Ind. 49 south of the Indiana Toll Road to commercial development. In
all likelihood, he added, the utility corridor’s first customers will be Fox
Chase Farms and the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Community, which sought
sanitary sewer service from the Utility earlier this year to replace their
own failing systems.
Work on that front
continues to progress, Brandt noted, with the State Revolving Fund recently
approving the project’s preliminary engineering report and committing to a
0-percent 20-year loan to finance construction of the new sewer line.
worthy of note, Brandt said:
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit was renewed
for another five years, on Nov. 1.
¥The Service Board,
acting on the recommendation of its contracted rate consultant, London Witte
Group, opted to maintain essentially the same schedule of rates, without
meaningful increase, for 2015-16.
Terry Atherton’s work to align the Utility’s budget with its rates should
provide sufficient cash flow over the next four or five years to preclude
the need for any further bonding but at the same time to keep on hand
required cash reserves.
¥And the Utility
lab’s accuracy was once again recognized by the U.S. Environmental
“That’s a full
year, Brandt said. “And believe it or not 2015 will probably have many of
these things and more.”
Brandt took a
moment at the end of the meeting to express his gratitude to Town Council
Member and Utility liaison Sharon Darnell, D-4th, “for running interference”
for the Service Board; to the council itself and the department heads; to
the Utility’s employees; and to Harris Welsh & Lukmann for “wise counsel and
selfless dedication.” Finally, Brandt had a good word for the Utility’s
customers, including its largest customer, the Town of Porter. “Thank you
for your business and paying your bills.”
Update on the
In other business,
Atherton reported that the de-watering project at the treatment plant ended
on Nov. 21 and since then the two private wells on Waverly Road in Porter
have successfully re-charged.
The Utility also
replaced both wells’ pumps, which burned out when falling water levels
caused them to begin sucking air.
The Utility has
asked each resident to submit claims for all expenses incurred, “for bottled
water, whatever,” Atherton added.
voted 3-0 to issue an allocation letter to the developer of the Brassie
Estates subdivision for Phase I of the project: 16 single-family homes to be
built north of the Brassie Golf Course off Pearson Road.
Members Jim Raffin
and Andy Michel were not in attendance.
Members also voted
3-0 to write-off $5,765.24 in bad debt and $331.56 in uncollectible
penalties, owed by former customers who have left town and are not
November in Review
Chesterton used 40.56 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd)
allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 45.11 percent of its
851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 39.73
percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 40.17 percent
of its capacity.
There were no
bypasses last month, during which a total of 1.82 inches of precipitation
The Utility ran a
surplus of $173,884.15 in November and in the year-to-date is running a
deficit of $309,931.92.