Chesterton Tribune


Public has until November 5 to comment on plan for storage tank to reduce bypasses

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Chesterton residents have until 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, to comment on the preliminary engineering plan for the Utility’s long term control plan (LTCP) for the reduction of sewage bypasses into the Little Calumet River.

In the meantime, only one person attended a public hearing on the plan, at a special meeting of the Utility Service Board. That person did like what he saw and said as much.

The LTCP is a mandate of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—administered by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management—the whole point of which is to significantly reduce the amount of sewage which the Utility is forced to release into the Little Cal during heavy rain events.

Those sewage releases are more technically known as combined sewer overflows and they’re caused by unseparated sanitary and stormwater systems, or else by the infiltration of a sanitary system. During very wet weather, the amount of stormwater which finds its way into the town’s sanitary system can sometimes threaten to swamp the wastewater treatment plant, forcing bypasses.

The LTCP is designed to reduce, if not altogether eliminate, the need for bypasses, with the construction of a 1.2-million gallon storage tank, into which the plant’s main lift station will pump the stormwater-diluted wastewater until the plant has had a chance to catch up, then will bleed it back into the system for full treatment.

The total estimated cost of the project: $14.9 million, for which the Service Board hopes to obtain a low-interest loan from the State Revolving Fund. The PER is a perquisite of any such loan, as is a public hearing on the PER, duly held on Monday.

Folks who may wish to review the PER may find a copy at the town hall. Comment cards are available. They may be dropped off at or mailed to the municipal complex at 1490 Broadway, Chesterton, IN 46304, Attention: PER Comments.

DLZ project engineer Mark Nye opened the public hearing with an overview of the LTCP, which is divided into four separate components: the construction of the tank itself and upgrades to the main lift station at the plant (75 percent of the LTCP); improvements to the wastewater treatment plant (18 percent); a few upgrades of six of the town’s lift stations (2 percent); and a few repairs to the town’s collection system (5 percent), including the relining of the Eighth Street and 15th Street mains and the relining of five manholes.

The peak capacity of the plant is 10 million gallons per day. When heavy rains increase that flow, the plant is forced to bypass. Under the EPA mandate, the Utility must be capable of handling what is known as a 10-year/one-hour event, or what amounts to just under two inches of rain in an hour. When all the calculating is said and done, the tank must have a storage capacity of 1.2 million gallons.

The rest of the scope of the LTCP is to increase the ability of both the plant and the collection system to handle heavy rain events, Nye said.

A tentative timeline:

•PER submittal, Nov. 22.

•PER approval, January 2013.

•Phase I (plant, collections, and lift station upgrades) approval, February 2013.

•Advertise for Phase I bids, March 2013.

•Phase II (tank and main plant lift station work) approval, July 2013.

•Advertise for Phase II bids, August 2013.

•Contract award, October 2013.

•Construction begins, November 2013.

•Construction completed, July 2015.

•Operation goes on line, September 2015.

If the Utility succeeds in finishing the work by September 2015, Nye noted, it will have done so fully one year ahead of IDEM’s deadline.


One person spoke at the public hearing, Mark Montgomery, a Chesterton resident and retired chemical engineer. He had two questions: does the PER accommodate any new commercial customers generated as a result of the Ind. 49 utility corridor project?

Nye said that it does and that the flow to the plant would have to double in volume before it would affect operations. “Then there’ll have to be a new plant expansion.”

Montgomery also wanted to know how the Utility will keep the wastewater in the tank from going septic.

Nye said in response that the wastewater in question is mostly highly diluted by stormwater but that in any case it will usually be bled back into the system for treatment “within a day or two.”

Montgomery appeared to like what he heard. “I think it’s a very well thought out plan,” he said.

The Service Board took no action on Monday but members did have a few comments.

Member Scot McCord emphasized that the LTCP “is mandated by the state and federal government,” with sizable monetary penalties and even a prison term for Superintendent Rob Lovell in the event of non-compliance.

McCord also observed that the Service Board has “exhausted every funding possibility, grants, federal grants.” But, he said, “there’s nothing out there.”

“It’s mandated,” McCord concluded. “We’re going to be a year ahead of schedule. And we’ve exhausted all the funding possibilities.”

“A lot of people don’t understand the long term control plan,” Member John Schnadenberg said for his part. “In a nutshell, the days of us overflowing into the creek are over. It’s a well thought out project. And it’s mandated. And to eliminate overflows, it’s money well spent, in my opinion.”

“The Great Lakes are the largest body of fresh water in the world,” President Larry Brandt said. “It’s a precious resource. And for years and years and years, the quality of the water had been degraded by all the cities overflowing into it.”

The solution in Indiana, Brandt said: “We’re just not going to put sewage into the lake. And they came up with the 10-year/one-hour standard. And we have to build a tank. For the historical point of view, it’s an attempt to preserve a precious natural resource. From a community point of view, it just doesn’t make sense to put sewage into our drinking water. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Rate Hike

The Town Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, on a proposed rate hike of just under 6 percent, to pay for the LTCP.

Under the proposed rate hike, the average residential household using 10,000 gallons of water per month would see its bimonthly bill rise from $76.80 to $81.26: a hike of $4.46 per billing statement or $2.23 per month or 5.81 percent.


Posted 10/31/2012