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.
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
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
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?
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
“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.
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
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.