Chesterton Tribune



Utility will be communicating with Fox Chase homeowners about connecting

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All systems are still go for the Fox Chase Farm/Whispering Sands sanitary sewer project.

At the Chesterton Utility Service Board’s meeting Monday night, Superintendent Terry Atherton reported that eight contractors attended a pre-bid conference for the project on Feb. 12 and that all bids received will be opened at a special meeting on Feb. 25.

So far, so good.

Then President Larry Brandt was asked this question: who exactly is going to cover the cost of connecting a lateral to each of the 88 homes in the Fox Chase Farm subdivision?

Each individual homeowner, in fact, will be installing the lateral at his or her expense, Brandt said. Then he added, “There have been rocks in the road. But they are being pushed aside.”

A moment later Brandt elaborated. “It’s just getting 88 people on the same page,” he said. “The Utility will be dealing with the individual homeowners at Fox Chase, not with the property owners association. Although the POA is communicating with them. At some point the Utility will schedule a meeting with all the homeowners.”

It really is a good news/bad news situation, Brandt said. “The bad news is that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is telling Fox Chase Farm that they have to shut down their sewer system.” The good news: “If there’s not an alternative, (IDEM) doesn’t look good.”

So the State Revolving Fund is greasing the wheels with a 20-year, 0-percent interest loan--and a $750,000 grant on top of that--to make the alternative as painlessly affordable as possible. In the end, Fox Chase Farm homeowners will be paying $100 per month for the new sanitary service.

For the Utility itself, there’s a lot of upside. The $2.1-million project won’t cost its current ratepayers anything at all--that expense is being borne entirely by Fox Chase Farms and the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park--while the Utility will be treating “some serious flow.”

There will likely come a time when the Utility will have to expand again. But that time is not just around the corner, Brandt noted, given the fact that on average the plant is operating at under 50 percent of its capacity.

Sewer Use Ordinance

In other business, members voted unanimously to endorse a new Sewer Use Ordinance (SUO), a requirement for the renewal of the Utility’s National Pollution Elimination Discharge System permit.

Among other things, that ordinance lowers, in some cases dramatically lowers, the limits on chemicals and other substances which industries may release into the sanitary sewer system. And it lowers those limits voluntarily.

That prompted a brief discussion of two questions: Will the wastewater treatment plant be able to accommodate the lower limits? And is lowering the limits a good idea, from the perspective of economic development?

Brandt answered both. Capital improvements made over the last 10 to 15 years mean that the plant “should have no trouble meeting the reduced limits,” he said.

In any case, the lower limits will really only apply to dentists, Worthington Steel, and possibly Urschel Laboratories, Brandt noted. “So it shouldn’t handcuff us. If it does handcuff us, it will be in a good way, keep out industries we don’t want in the first place.”

“I don’t want people walking away because our limits are too stringent,” Member Scot McCord said.

“I think if they were going to bump up against those limits, we would want them to walk away,” Brandt replied. “Because we don’t want anybody putting that crap in the lake.”

The proposed new SUO will now go to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for review, then to the Town Council for formal adoption.

Emergency Response Plan

Meanwhile, by another unanimous vote, members formally adopted an Enforcement Response Plan (ERP), which prescribes the kind and range of responses available to the Utility for any given discharge violation: discharging without a permit, say, or exceeding discharge limitation.

Like the Sewer Use Ordinance, the ERP is a requirement of the NPDES permit renewal.


Members also voted unanimously to join the Indiana Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (InWARN): a “formalized system of ‘utilities helping utilities’ deliver mutual aid following major emergencies,” as its literature describes it.

“The goal of InWarn is to provide aid to member utilities during times of emergencies,” InWarn states. “The means will be to allocate utility personnel with the appropriate expertise, equipment, and tools where needed to assess and assist the impacted water and wastewater systems in getting their systems operational as quickly as possible.”

There is no cost involved in joining InWARN, and Superintendent Terry Atherton--who previously worked for a utility in Florida--said that FlaWARN has proved enormously valuable in helping utilities in that state get back on their feet in the wake of hurricanes.

January in Review

In January, Chesterton used 40.31 percent of its 3,668,000 million gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 51.23 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 64.81 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 42.76 percent of its capacity.

There were no combined sewer bypasses into the Little Calumet River last month.

Also in January, the Utility ran a surplus of $184,619.

Utility board to open Fox Chase bids Feb 25

The Chesterton Utility Service Board will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the town hall.

The board will be opening bids for the Fox Chase Farms/Whispering Sands sanitary sewer connection project.

Posted 2/20/2015




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