Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Utility wants NIPSCO to make electric service at sewer plant more reliable

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So it turns out that the power outage which befell the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant on Sunday, July 24--leading to a release of untreated wastewater into the Little Calumet River because the plant’s backup generator failed to activate--isn’t the only recent incident of juicelessness at the plant.

“We continue to experience power interruptions that aren’t always related to local storms,” Superintendent Dave Ryan told the Utility Service Board at its meeting Monday night.

Accordingly, Ryan--as he put it tactfully--has “requested NIPSCO to get involved in evaluating the quality and consistency of the power being delivered to the plant.” In particular, Ryan wants the Northern Indiana Public Service Company not only to inspect the incoming power lines but also to install a recording meter.

And has NIPSCO done one or the other or both yet? President Larry Brandt wondered.

NIPSCO has not yet, Ryan said. The work hasn’t been scheduled in fact, and “from my experience NIPSCO moves pretty slow in scheduling things. It could be several weeks.”

If the matter remains unresolved for any length of time, Member Scot McCord advised Ryan to enlist the assistance, in ascending order of potential influence, Town Manager Bernie Doyle, Town Council President Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, and finally Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North.

Ryan did note that the failure of a battery charger on the plant’s backup generator led to a 90-minute release of untreated wastewater--128,000 gallons of it--on the night of July 24. That charger is presumed to have been damaged by a lightning strike, possibly that evening or more likely during one of the storms which had passed through Duneland over the previous 72 hours.

“It was an act-of-God thing we couldn’t control,” Ryan said. “Lightning struck the system or there was a power surge. Something beyond our control.”

In any event, along with the battery charger, 11 of the 20 rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries which were supposed to power the backup generator were also found dead and incapable of taking a new charge. Ryan has since junked all of the NiCads and replaced them with a double bank of two heavy-duty wet-cell batteries each, the first bank tasked to running the generator as needed, the second to backing up the first.

Later in the evening, Brandt and Member Andy Michel took a moment to address a Voice of the People published in the July 28 edition of the Chesterton Tribune and accusing the Utility of “negligence/incompetence.”

“Before people write things, they should have all the facts,” Michel said.

Brandt, on the contrary, thanked the author of the VOP. “We appreciate it when someone in town takes that much interest in our water quality,” he said. “I wish everyone was as vigilant as this gentleman.”

Lake Michigan’s fresh water is one of the Midwest’s most valuable natural resources, Brandt added. And it’s a good thing that, “when it’s endangered just a little, people get riled up. And if we don’t do everything possible to keep it clean, shame on us.”

The Residences of Coffee Creek

In other business, members voted unanimously to approve--pending Ryan’s review--a capacity allocation request for the Residences of Coffee Creek, a proposed 110-unit senior assisted living center being eyed for the acreage immediately north of Sidewalk Road, west of Kelle Drive, north of Village Point, and east of Ind. 49.

That project is being developed by Westshore Senior Housing Consultants LLC.

Forthcoming Rate Study

Meanwhile, Brandt reported that the Utility’s contracted financial consultant, London Witte Group, is currently at work on the biennial rate study and should have a first draft ready for the Service Board to review by the second week in September.

Among other things, Brandt said, London Witte is considering the impact of an 8- to 9-percent increase in revenues, the result of new residential and commercial customers coming on line.

Sometime later this fall the Service Board will make a formal recommendation to the Town Council on the 2017-18 sewer rates in light of London Witte’s findings and projections.

July in Review

In July, Chesterton used 39.74 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 46.15 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 50.27 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as whole, 40.50 percent of its capacity.

There was an outflow last month of 128,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the Little Calumet River, when the failure of a backup generator to activate during a power outage left the plant without electrical service. July was the wettest month of the year, with 4.24 inches of rain; the next wettest, April, with 3.76 inches.

In July the Utility ran a surplus of $283,111.11 and in the year-to-date is running a surplus of $423,984.30.


Posted 8/17/2016





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