Chesterton Tribune



Sewage treatment plant running under 50 percent capacity as improvements pay off

Back To Front Page



In 2009 the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant ran at not quite 61 percent of its capacity. Six years later, in 2015, the plant ran at less than 46 percent of its capacity.

That’s not because there’s been any infrastructural expansion of the plant, or because the volume of actual wastewater treated by the plant has at all decreased. It’s because, on the contrary, the towns of Chesterton and Porter have been slowly, methodically, and at no little expense separating their sanitary sewer systems from their stormwater systems and thereby dramatically reducing the amount of runoff which flows into the plant during rain events.

“We used to be consistently over 50 percent usage,” Utility Service Board President Larry Brandt noted at last week’s meeting. “It’s been a number of years in a row now we’ve been below 50 percent, although we’ve had a growth in customers. That’s nice to see. We’ve spent millions of dollars and we’re noticing the results.”

“We’ve probably added four or five years to the life of the current plant, before we have to consider expansion,” Brandt added.

Among the big-ticket items contributing to the slash in plant usage was the Downtown sewer separation project in 2011, which Town Engineer Mark O’Dell said has done “a lot” to proof the sanitary system against runoff inflow; and the installation in 2014 of two stormwater lift stations in low-lying alleys off 11th Street, which Member John Schnadenberg guessed has kept anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 gallons of runoff per major rain event out of the system.

Porter Public Works Director Brenda Brueckheimer--representing the Utility’s largest out-of-town customer, the Town of Porter--added that her town has pursued its own program of sewer separation, with notable results. “We’ve gone almost 22 months now with no overflow,” she said.

“See what $5 million will do for you?” Brandt replied.


In other business, Member Andy Michel did what is almost unthinkable nowadays for a public servant: he admitted he’d been wrong about something, and ate his words.

Michel’s humble-pie moment was occasioned by O’Dell’s report that the supports for the aerial sewer main serving the Morningside subdivision have been successfully replaced and that the project is all done bar the shouting.

It’s been more than 15 years since the Service Board began seeking to replace the dilapidated support columns, which carry the sewer over and across approximately 300 feet of environmentally sensitive, officially designated wetland, north of the Little Calumet River.

But obtaining the necessary permits and authorizations from the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management delayed the project over the years, prompting Michel, as recently as the Service Board’s June meeting, to voice his skepticism over the likelihood of the job’s ever getting done.

Michel, however, is now a believer. “I’ve seen the pictures,” he said. “I believe it. It looks like they did a great job.”

The $197,000 project, awarded to the Gariup Construction Company, involved sinking 15 pairs of screw-in piers to a depth of 30 feet along the length of the aerial line, which traverses the wetland at a height of eight to 10 feet.

Chestnut Hills

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to award the contract for the Chestnut Hills manhole project to R.V. Sutton Inc., which submitted the low quote of $83,916.

New manholes will be installed at four locations in the subdivision: on Greenmeadow Lane, Foxpoint Drive South, Partridge Way, and Briarcliff Court.

The idea is to give the collection crew greater and easier access to the sewer main.

June in Review

In June, Chesterton used 41.37 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 45.24 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 49 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 42.22 percent of its capacity.

There were no combined sewer bypasses into the Little Calumet River last month, which saw 2.27 inches of rain.

Also in June, the Utility ran a deficit of $183,155.43 and in the year-to-date is running a surplus of $140,873.19.


Posted 7/26/2016





Search This Site:

Custom Search