Chesterton Tribune



IDEM nixes idea of re-rating sewer plant capacity

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At the Chesterton Utility Service Board’s November meeting, President Larry Brandt expressed an interest in a possible re-rating of the wastewater treatment plant’s capacity, after observing that the plant is now regularly operating at well under 50 percent of its original design load, thanks to a rigorous program of combined sewer separation in both Chesterton and the Town of Porter.

The benefits of a re-rating would be two, Brandt said at the time: a larger certified treatment capacity would mean that the Utility would have more capacity to sell, to new industrial and commercial customers and to new subdivisions; it would also mean that the Utility could potentially delay by years the point at whichÑunder the lawÑit would need to physically expand the treatment plant, that is, when it hits 85 percent capacity.

The Indiana Department of Management (IDEM), however, has since put the kibosh on Brandt’s idea.

In a letter to Superintendent Dave Ryan dated Dec. 1, Dale Schnaith of IDEM’s Office of Water Quality made it pretty clear that he could envision no circumstances under which IDEM would even consider a re-rating. “It has been IDEM’s long-standing policy that a (wastewater treatment plant) capacity rating increase only be considered when a qualifying plant expansion project supports an increase and a construction permit is issued,” Schnaith stated in his letter. “In other words, a capacity rating increase is approved when an actual expansion to treatment process is proposed.”

“What I don’t understand is why the utility board would think there is any merit for IDEM to approve a capacity rating increase based on the current flows to the (wastewater treatment plant) being only 46 percent of design capacity,” Schnaith added. “It is great the (town) has been able to eliminate stormwater in the sewers, and this creates more available capacity up to the current 4.6 (million gallon per day) rating. But it does not provide any rational justification to increase the design rating beyond 4.6 (million gallons per day).”

Bus Barn Connection Proposed

In other business, members voted unanimously to pursue a connection of the Duneland School Corporation’s bus barnÑlocated on C.R. 100E (Old Ind. 49) in unincorporated Liberty TownshipÑto the town’s sanitary sewer system.

As John Sturgill of the McMahon Group told the Service Board, the bus barn is currently served by a septic system, which is “aged and getting up to the end of its useful life.” The flows generated by the bus barn are small, Sturgill noted, only around 8,000 to 10,000 gallons per month, roughly the same volume generated by an average household in town.

Under the project’s preliminary design, a grinder pump would be installed at the bus barn and then a force main bored under Ind. 49 to a manhole in Coffee Creek Center, either on Sidewalk Road or Voyage Blvd. The project would cost around $100,000, Sturgill estimated.

Sturgill added the DSC is perfectly willing to see the bus barn annexed by the town and said that the necessary 1/8 contiguity with Chesterton’s corporate boundary has already been determined.

Members, for their own part, were happy to pursue the connection as exactly the sort of project which IDEM encourages: “getting people off of septic,” as Brandt remarked.


Members also voted unanimously to write off $3,693.02 in uncollectable accounts, left outstanding after residents sold their homes and moved out of town.

November in Review

In November, Chesterton used 47.08 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 54.40 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 63.15 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 48.72 percent of its capacity.

A total of 3.87 inches of rain fell in November, fully two inches of which, however, came down in the short space of three hours on Nov. 2. On that day not quite half of the 1.2-million gallon storage tank’s capacity was used, when approximately 500,000 gallons of water were diverted into the tank until the treatment plant had had a chance to catch up. There were no bypasses in November.

The Utility ran a surplus in November of $235,737.71 and in the year-to-date is running a surplus of $694,503.83.



Posted 12/22/2016








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