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
added four or five years to the life of the current plant, before we have to
consider expansion,” Brandt added.
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.
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
Michel, however, is
now a believer. “I’ve seen the pictures,” he said. “I believe it. It looks
like they did a great job.”
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.
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
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.