Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Septic tanks not only stream polluters, board member says

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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.” Gutt said.

Gutt explains 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.”


Posted 4/18/2011




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