Chesterton Tribune



Utility is now IDEM compliant with plan to control combined sewer overflows

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The Chesterton 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 River.

So Superintendent 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.

Camera Truck

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.

Although, under 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 Tribune.

Payment in Lieu

Meanwhile, the 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.

The second 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 capacity.

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.


Posted 8/21/2018




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