Chesterton Tribune

Spend tax money to keep sewage not stormwater out of creeks

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Voice of the People

Talk about misplaced priorities!

Item: Chesterton Tribune, July 13 – Jennifer Gadzala, MS4 Storm Water Operator for the Town of Chesterton, touts “free” taxpayer-funded brochures that provide information to homeowners to protect the quality of surface water feeding into Lake Michigan.

Item: Chesterton Tribune, July 18, - The Chesterton Stormwater Management Board considers a permanent user fee to cover the utility’s costs of the MS4 program.

Item: Chesterton Tribune, July 20, - Chesterton Utility Chief Operator Dick Condon reports that, because of heavy rain that morning, at least 211,000 gallons of untreated sewage is dumped into the Little Calumet River, eventually flowing into Lake Michigan.

On Friday, July 14, I telephoned Mr. Condon to inquire on the frequency and volume of Combined Sewage Overflows (CSO’s) from the Chesterton Treatment Facility in the past year. Although he said that he didn’t have the numbers handy, he assured me that he could get them and respond to me the following Monday. He did mention, however, that I would be “disappointed at the low figures” that I would be receiving.

Well, needless to say, I never heard back from him, and then I read later that “at least” 211,000 gallons had bypassed treatment. Yes, I was disappointed, but not for the reasons that Mr. Condon had in mind.

Other news reports stated that several other sewage plants in the area also bypassed unknown quantities of raw sewage into tributaries leading to Lake Michigan. If we can accept the fact that millions of gallons of waste are discharged into our drinking water supply, why are we so concerned with runoff from residents’ property? A little dog poop or lawn fertilizer in storm water runoff is dwarfed by the CSO’s from municipal sewage plants. If governmental agencies want to attack the problem of polluted stormwater, they should concentrate on the largest, most egregious sources: CSO’s The fees they levy should go towards sanitary sewer separation projects and treatment plant upgrades, instead of publishing brochures. These leaflets and programs like MS4 are a grand WASTE of taxpayers’ hard-earned money!

George Mrak


Posted 7/25/2006