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