A plan projecting future economic growth of Northwest Indiana says that
existing septic tanks are affecting water quality by contaminating a third
of the areas’ streams.
The work of the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, Plan 2040
attempts to provide a path for the area to follow in promoting economic
redevelopment. The plan also measures the impact population growth is having
on the region’s air and water resources.
According to published reports Joe Exl, NIRPC Senior Water planner, was
quoted as blaming failing septic systems for contributing to the
contamination of over 200 miles of the 700 miles of region streams.
e. coli is an indicator of the presence of bacteria found mainly as a
byproduct of animal and human intestinal wastes. It is not known to what
extent septic wastes leeching into streams have caused human illnesses or to
what degree stream contamination is the result of animal wastes.
Although Porter County Drainage Board Member Edwin Gutt does not deny that
failure of septic systems can lead to contamination he feels that even
bigger potential contamination sources should be considered.
Gutt, told the Chesterton Tribune that he questions the effectiveness
of small private treatment processing plants, such as those at nearby mobile
home parks, namely Liberty Farms and the Sands. “Are these monitored? Are
they working correctly and are they inspected, is what I would like to
know,” Gutt said. In addition, Gutt a Liberty township resident, wants to
know the impact municipal treatment plants have on area rivers and streams.
“After a big storm these facilities routinely dump untreated wastes into
streams,” Gutt said. “Doesn’t this practice lead to e. coli contamination on
a larger scale.”
The NIRPC plan estimates that 25 percent of existing septic tanks fail and
this results in a third of the streams being contaminated. Gutt says he has
seen septic tanks fail and does not doubt NIRPC findings. He blames these
failures on neglecting the maintenance schedule of systems. “They need to be
pumped out every two years to prevent solids from blocking drain fields.”
that the intent of the NIRPC plan is to aid the economic growth of
municipalities. The proposed Gateway to the Dunes is an example of a plan
that Gutt thinks would benefit from extending sewer lines down route 49.
Responding to the recently published septic tank comments by NIRPC, Gutt
said, “You got to read between the lines of these studies.”