Chesterton Tribune

Sewer collapses into Coffee Creek

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The corn isn’t anywhere near as high as an elephant’s eye yet but the Chesterton Utility is already up to its own eyeballs in the second sanitary sewer emergency of the summer.

Sometime on Wednesday a 15-inch ductile iron pipe suspended over Coffee Creek beneath the bridge on East Porter Ave. collapsed into the creek when a pair of I-beam support arms welded to the bridge’s piers failed, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the Chesterton Tribune today.

On hitting the creek bottom four feet below, that ductile iron pipe—containing the actual 12-inch PVC gravity main itself—fell apart, releasing an unknown amount of untreated wastewater into Coffee Creek, O’Dell said.

When the failure occurred is unclear but the Utility was notified at 7:11 p.m. by Chesterton Police after a passerby discovered the damage.

“There’s no way of knowing how much sewage entered the creek,” O’Dell said. “That main doesn’t have a lot of flow, though. It serves parts of Morgan Park including the Duneland YMCA.”

O’Dell has notified the Indiana Department of Environmental Management of the sewage release as well as the Porter County Highway Department, which has jurisdiction over the bridge itself.

The broken end of the main was quickly plugged, a vacuum truck has been on site around the clock to collect the wastewater, and there has been no further release into Coffee Creek, O’Dell said.

Meanwhile, O’Dell has arranged with Woodruff & Sons of Michigan City—on an emergency basis—to repair the main.

A new section of pipe has been delivered to the site but Woodruff spent the greater part of Thursday fabricating new steel collars from which to suspend the pipe from the bridge.

O’Dell is hopeful, though, that the repair will be made by the end of the day today or sometime on Saturday by the latest.

Only a few weeks ago, the Utility faced its first big emergency of the summer, when a sink hole opened at the intersection of West Porter Ave. and Eighth Street, the result of a breach in a manhole some 18 feet below the surface, through which sand, dirt, and gravel was washed away, creating a void under the street.

The manhole has been repaired and the site in-filled—though not yet re-paved—but at some point this summer the great amount of debris washed through the breach will have to be removed from the 48-inch gravity main which runs north on Eighth Street to its terminus at the wastewater treatment plant.


Posted 6/11/2010