Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Utility looks back at 2014 as year of milestones

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It was a “full year” for the Chesterton Utility in 2014, with more than its fair share of landmarks and milestones.

So President Larry Brandt reported at the Utility Service Board’s meeting Monday night. “We had a really good year,” he said. “We had an exciting year.”

Begin with the federally mandated long term control plan (LTCP) to reduce sewage bypasses into the Little Calumet River, the linchpin of which is a 1.2-million gallon storage tank to hold wastewater during heavy rain events.

Since ground broke on that tank in November 2013, work has progressed more smoothly than anyone has the right to expect of a $8,471,800 project. The tank and ancillary improvements are now 60 percent complete, Brandt said, and it’s anticipated that the tank will be on line and in operation by the middle of 2015, fully one year ahead of the deadline imposed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The whole of the three-phase LTCP is also looking to cost far less--maybe 20 percent less--than the original estimate of $14.9 million, thanks to State Revolving Fund financing for the first two phases, a strategy which will yield a savings of $2.7 million in interest payments over the life of the bonds, Brandt said.

Meanwhile, also in 2014, the Ind. 49 utility corridor was completed, which Brandt said promises to open Ind. 49 south of the Indiana Toll Road to commercial development. In all likelihood, he added, the utility corridor’s first customers will be Fox Chase Farms and the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Community, which sought sanitary sewer service from the Utility earlier this year to replace their own failing systems.

Work on that front continues to progress, Brandt noted, with the State Revolving Fund recently approving the project’s preliminary engineering report and committing to a 0-percent 20-year loan to finance construction of the new sewer line.

Other developments worthy of note, Brandt said:

¥The Utility’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit was renewed for another five years, on Nov. 1.

¥The Service Board, acting on the recommendation of its contracted rate consultant, London Witte Group, opted to maintain essentially the same schedule of rates, without meaningful increase, for 2015-16.

¥Superintendent Terry Atherton’s work to align the Utility’s budget with its rates should provide sufficient cash flow over the next four or five years to preclude the need for any further bonding but at the same time to keep on hand required cash reserves.

¥And the Utility lab’s accuracy was once again recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“That’s a full year, Brandt said. “And believe it or not 2015 will probably have many of these things and more.”

Brandt took a moment at the end of the meeting to express his gratitude to Town Council Member and Utility liaison Sharon Darnell, D-4th, “for running interference” for the Service Board; to the council itself and the department heads; to the Utility’s employees; and to Harris Welsh & Lukmann for “wise counsel and selfless dedication.” Finally, Brandt had a good word for the Utility’s customers, including its largest customer, the Town of Porter. “Thank you for your business and paying your bills.”

Update on the Porter Wells

In other business, Atherton reported that the de-watering project at the treatment plant ended on Nov. 21 and since then the two private wells on Waverly Road in Porter have successfully re-charged.

The Utility also replaced both wells’ pumps, which burned out when falling water levels caused them to begin sucking air.

The Utility has asked each resident to submit claims for all expenses incurred, “for bottled water, whatever,” Atherton added.

Allocation Letter

Meanwhile, members voted 3-0 to issue an allocation letter to the developer of the Brassie Estates subdivision for Phase I of the project: 16 single-family homes to be built north of the Brassie Golf Course off Pearson Road.

Members Jim Raffin and Andy Michel were not in attendance.


Members also voted 3-0 to write-off $5,765.24 in bad debt and $331.56 in uncollectible penalties, owed by former customers who have left town and are not reachable.

November in Review

In November, Chesterton used 40.56 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 45.11 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 39.73 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 40.17 percent of its capacity.

There were no bypasses last month, during which a total of 1.82 inches of precipitation was recorded.

The Utility ran a surplus of $173,884.15 in November and in the year-to-date is running a deficit of $309,931.92.


Posted 12/22/2014




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