Utility is at last officially, and fully, compliant--per the Indiana
Department of Environmental Management (IDEM)--with its Long Term Control
Plan (LTCP) to reduce combined sewer overflows into the Little Calumet
Dave Ryan informed the Utility Service Board at its meeting Monday night.
The lynchpin of the
LTCP: the $1.2-million storage basin constructed at the wastewater plant, to
temporarily hold excess flow during heavy rain events until the plant has
caught up to the volume.
However, as Ryan
also informed the Service Board, there is a consequence of being fully in
compliance: IDEM has changed the plant’s combined sewer overflow (CSO)
classification from “Authorized” to “Prohibited,” which means on paper at
any rate that the Utility is no longer, in exigent circumstances, permitted
to release flow into the Little Cal.
After the meeting,
Ryan told the Chesterton Tribune that, in practice, nothing really
has changed. In those now very rare cases when extraordinary events make a
CSO necessary--like the four inches of rain in February which followed hard
on the heels of a 20-inch snow melt--the Utility is unlikely to face any
harsh penalties, so long as IDEM is notified within 24 hours and the Utility
duly files an incident report.
In other business,
members voted unanimously to authorize Ryan to purchase a new camera truck
from R.S. Technical Services Inc. (RST), to replace the 20-plus-year-old
camera truck which has become increasingly unreliable.
Ryan reported that
he invited three different manufacturers to demo their camera trucks and in
the end decided that he wants to go with RST, which manufactured the
Utility’s current truck. Among other things, the collections crew is already
familiar with the truck’s camera system and software and the old truck can
be easily cannibalized for spare parts, Ryan noted.
He also recommended
that the new truck be equipped with a “lateral launch feature”: a second
camera which can be deployed into privately-owned sanitary service laterals.
That feature won’t be of any particular advantage to the Utility but it will
be a positive boon for homeowners, when the collections crew uses the
secondary camera to identify whose lateral has been breached and is flowing
dirt and sand into the system. “We’ll be able to tell the homeowner that
there’s a problem with the lateral that’s going to need to be fixed
someday,” Ryan said.
Ryan was unable to
give members a definitive price on the new camera truck but said that it
would be in the neighborhood of $210,000. The Service Board accordingly
voted to authorize an expenditure not to exceed $210,000 and then voted
again to pay cash on the barrel for the truck.
Indiana Code, most public works projects require a municipality to go out
for bids when the estimated cost of an item exceeds $150,000, state law
specifically exempts utilities from the need to bid out purchases.
“Utilities are exempted from those requirements because they have to buy on
the fly all the time,” Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson told the
Payment in Lieu
Service Board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution transferring to the
town’s General Fund both a “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) of $77,751;
and a return on the wastewater treatment plant of $79,544.
Those sums will be
made over to the General Fund on an annual basis, as part of ensuring the
sustainability of the raises granted to all municipal employees in April.
Although, as a
public utility, the Chesterton Utility does not pay property taxes, under
state law a municipality may collect from a utility an annual amount
equivalent to what the utility would pay in property taxes if it were
a private entity. Because the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant is
actually located in the Town of Porter, the Utility is making a PILOT only
on its infrastructure physically installed in the Town of Chesterton: that
is, on its underground collection system and the series of lift stations.
transfer, on the other hand, is what the resolution describes as “the
reasonable return on the utility plant that should be charged to the town’s
municipal sewage works.”
At its last meeting
the Town Council adopted a mirror resolution authorizing both the PILOT and
the return on plant.
July in Review
In July, Chesterton
used 45.55 percent of its 3,668,000 gallon per day (gpd) allotment of the
wastewater treatment plant; Porter, 49.75 percent of its 851,000 gpd
allotment; the Indian Boundary Conservancy District, 48.2 percent of its
81,000 gpd allotment; and the plant as the whole, 46.7 percent of its
There were no
combined sewer overflows last month into the Little Calumet River.
Also in July, the
Utility ran a surplus of $280,560.31 and in the year-to-date is running a
surplus of $630,330.23.