Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Utility board takes Sanitary Sewer Master Plan under advisement

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Chesterton Utility Service Board Zoomed its regular monthly meeting on Monday night.

All members and the usual department heads, as well as Town Council Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, liaison to the Utility, were present.

The chief order of business: members voted unanimously to take under advisement a Sanitary Sewer Master Plan which will be submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, in support of the Utility’s proposed settlement agreement with the City of Valparaiso. That agreement would end the territorial dispute prompted by Valparaiso City Utilities’ acquisition last year of the Damon Run Conservancy District’s sewer infrastructure and the Valparaiso City Council’s concomitant declaration of an exclusive sewer territory extending well into a similar territory in unincorporated Liberty Township formally declared by the Chesterton Town Council six years earlier.

That agreement would stipulate and demarcate precisely where the Chesterton and Valparaiso utilities would enjoy exclusive rights to provide sanitary service. Under the terms of the agreement, the Chesterton Utility would continue to serve Fox Chase Farms and the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park and would have exclusive rights inside the whole of the “Porter County Recapture Area,” bordered roughly by the Indiana Toll Road to the north, North Calumet Ave. to the east, a portion of unincorporated LIberty Township south of U.S. Highway 6, and a portion of unincorporated Jackson Township east to C.R. 350E.

The Sanitary Sewer Master Plan (SSMP) taken under advisement on Monday night--prepared by Bea, Longest & Neff LLC--has a twofold purpose: to outline and detail the “areas that can and ultimately may receive wastewater treatment service” from the Chesterton Utility, those areas collectively termed the Porter County Recapture Area in the proposed settlement agreement; and to demonstrate that the Chesterton Utility has “both the ways and the means to provide waste treatment services to the defined areas with adequate resources and capacity.”

The SSMP makes it clear that it is merely a “guide” to serving these particular areas, and that any implementation of it--that is, any installation of the necessary infrastructure--"will be driven by proposed developments.”

Among other things, the SSMP divides the proposed service territory into basins and sub-basins “based on existing topography, with possible gravity interceptor, lift station, and force main locations laid out.”

However, “the type and timing of developments proposed will have a significant effect on the actual recommended interceptor, lift station, and force mains within the new service area.”

Remarked Member Andy Michel, “I think it’s a terrific master plan and I’m looking forward to get it approved with all the Ts crossed and the Is dotted.”

The proposed SSMP has been posted to the municipal website, at chestertonin.org

The public is invited to review it and to submit comments to dryan@chestertonin.org

COVID-19 and the Utility

In other business, Superintendent Dave Ryan briefed members on the town’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All department heads met on March 16, fully a week before Gov. Eric Holcomb issued his stay-at-home executive order, to discuss a coordinated effort to continue essential municipal operations without unduly exposing employees. Then, on March 23, when Holcomb did issue his order, the department heads’ plan was implemented. Among other things, hours have been reduced and shifts staggered to implement employee distancing.

Is the plan working? President Larry Brandt wanted to know. Is the wastewater treatment plant operating “fairly well” with social-distancing?

“We’re doing the required work as needed,” Ryan replied. “It’s working out well.”

Brandt expressed one other concern, related to various reports that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted through feces.

The process used in treating wastewater and employees’ personal protection equipment “are sufficient to protect staff” from that possible route of transmission, Ryan said.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell did have one particular shout-out, for Utility Clerks Nancy Daniels and Trisha Keil, who he said have been doing an “outstanding job,” swamped as they are, working reduced office hours, with phone calls and voicemails from customers concerned about billing and water shut-offs. As the Chesterton Tribune reported on Monday, Ryan announced at Monday’s meeting that, per the governor’s executive order, there will be no utility shut-offs for non-payment of bills until further notice. Meanwhile, Ryan has instructed the Billing Department not to assess penalties to customers late in their payments.

March in Review

In March, Chesterton used 54.37 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment at the wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 55.22 percent of its 851,000 gpd allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 77.64 percent of its 81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as a whole, 54.93 percent of its capacity.

There were no bypasses last month of wastewater into the Little Calumet River. A total of 2.03 inches of rain was recorded at the plant.

Also in March, the Utility ran a surplus of $60,432.63 and in the year-to-date is running a surplus $354,912.28.

Last Thoughts

Member Scot McCord took a moment at the end of the meeting to wish former park superintendent Bruce Mathias well in his retirement. “It’s a shame it has to happen at this time,” McCord said. “It’s a shame it happened at a time when we really can’t celebrate. He’s done a great job for 27 years.”

McCord added that he’s been pleased to see how adeptly both the town and the community have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m very happy with the way the community is working together,” he said. “And the window placard idea is great. Everybody stay safe. I can’t wait to see everybody out in the community again.”

 

Posted 4/23/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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