Chesterton Tribune



Utility board mulls rerating wastewater plant capacity

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In 2009 the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant ran at not quite 61 percent of its capacity. Six years later, in 2015, the plant ran at less than 46 percent of its capacity.

That’s not because there’s been any infrastructural expansion of the plant, or because the volume of actual wastewater being treated by the plant has decreased. It’s because, on the contrary, the towns of Chesterton and Porter have been slowly, methodically, and at no little expense separating their sanitary systems from their stormwater systems and thereby dramatically reducing the amount of runoff which flows into the plant during rain events.

Which fact has made Utility Service Board President Larry Brandt wonder whether it might be time to have the plant’s capacity re-rated.

“We don’t know what the downsides might be,” he said at Monday night’s Service Board meeting. “But we do know what the upsides would be.”

There are two, Brandt noted. First, a larger treatment capacity would mean the Utility would have more capacity to sell, to potential new commercial and industrial customers and to potential new subdivisions.

Second, he said, under the law a wastewater treatment plant must begin the process of physically expanding its infrastructure when it hits 85-percent capacity. Re-rating Chesterton’s plant would mean that the very costly expansion process could possibly be delayed by years.

The Service Board accordingly agreed by consensus to instruct Superintendent Dave Ryan to explore the “pluses and minuses of re-rating plant capacity.”

Ryan said that he would get right on it.

Fox Chase Farms

In other business, a delegation from Fox Chase Farms attended the meeting to voice their gratitude to the Service Board for its work in connecting the subdivision--located off Meridian Road in Liberty Township--to the town’s collection system.

As Barbara Matthews noted, the Fox Chase Farms constructed wetlands septic mound system began failing some 20 years ago, not very long after the subdivision was developed. “You have become our neighborhood savior, because without sewage service we wouldn’t have a neighborhood,” Matthews said.

“We welcome you as customers,” Brandt said. “We welcome you as friends and neighbors.”

Brandt added that the buy-in from Fox Chase Farms homeowners--including the literal buy-in--was extraordinary. All of the subdivision’s 88 homeowners had to pick up the $5,100 tab for installing grinder pumps in their residences, and every one of them had done so within a month, he said. “One of the most surprising things is how rapidly the Fox Chase Farms residents were able to cover their internal cost.”

On the whole, Brandt concluded, “it was probably one of the best projects we’ve ever done, from a design point of view, from a cooperation point of view.”

October in Review

In October, Chesterton used 41.85 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 48.88 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indiana Boundary Conservancy District, 54.38 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 43.37 percent of its capacity.

There were no combined sewer overflows of wastewater into the Little Calumet River, in a month which saw a total of 3.74 inches of rain.

In October the Utility ran a deficit of $224,495.98 and in the year-to-date is running a surplus of $453,889.63.

Budget Meeting

Members voted unanimously to hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, on the 2017 budget.

Rembering Jo Winey Babcock

Members Scot McCord and Jim Raffin took a moment at the end of the meeting to express their profound condolences to attorney Greg Babcock on the passing of his wife, Jo Anne Winey-Babcock, on Nov. 3, and to the Winey family.



Posted 11/25/2016




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