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.
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.
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
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
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 email@example.com
COVID-19 and the
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.”
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
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
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
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