Crothersville Town Council moves forward with compliance efforts



Crothersville continues to take steps to become compliant with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The combined sewer overflow plan was developed in 2008 to begin the process of separating the storm sewer from the sanitary sewer, a project at the wastewater treatment plant was done between 2011 and 2013, Hominy Ditch culverts were redone in 2016 and a new lift station was installed at Seymour Road and Cindy Lane this year.

Next, the town is preparing for a project to install an overflow pipe parallel to the main line going to the plant and make some modifications to the plant to handle stormwater.

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Dan Wright, chief executive officer and geologist/environmental specialist for FPBH Inc., said it’s a required project based on the agreed order the town has with IDEM and will satisfy the terms of the combined sewer overflow compliance plan.

"In the state of Indiana, this is unfortunately something you have to do, so it’s an unpleasant thing, but we’re forced into a situation where in order to meet the agreed order and the time frames, we need to move forward with this," he recently told the town council.

During a meeting Tuesday night, the council unanimously approved first reading of a bond ordinance not to exceed $6 million, a bond anticipation note for up to $550,000 and an engineering contract for nearly $900,000.

Town attorney Jeff Lorenzo said most bonds have a 20-year amortization payout schedule. The second and final reading of the ordinance will be up for approval at the Jan. 7 council meeting, and the process of getting to the state for approval is going to be mid-summer.

"They think it’s going to come in around $5.75 million. It’s going to depend on engineering estimates and other stuff because they can’t predict what bids are going to look like at this point," Lorenzo said.

A bond anticipation note is a temporary loan that will be repaid from the final financing that will pay for preconstruction and nonconstruction costs, Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey said in reading an email from Wright. Wright said it will take 45 to 60 days to issue the bond anticipation note.

"It allows you to go to the market to borrow money that you will be reimbursed when the bonds are issued," Lorenzo said. "This is typical what you see with bonds where you’re relying on grants in the future that you don’t have yet and can’t have because of the way the state’s regulations are. You can’t have them yet until the project is underway."

The engineering contract with FPBH was approved pending approval of successful completion of the bond anticipation note funding. The cost includes schematic design; surveying; geotechnical services; three stages of design engineering; final tracings; permitting and plan review; construction contract and administration; and inspection.

In 2011, a planning document to address severe problems within the town’s wastewater utility was developed, and funding was secured for the $3.6 million project to complete repairs to the wastewater system. Around 40% was secured with grant money.

"That’s when we did a lot of the work at the plant and with the collection system down (U.S.) 31 south of town," Wright said. "That project resulted in taking care of a lot of the problems that allowed you to be able to monitor the system better at that point, and that monitoring led to the discovery that we weren’t quite meeting all of the requirements necessary for the project."

In 2016, a postconstruction evaluation was completed, and it was determined while many of the original issues were solved by the original project, additional work was required to meet the goals of the combined sewer overflow long-term compliance plan. As a result, a plan was developed and approved in 2017.

Also in 2016, a preliminary report was completed and $500,000 in funding was secured to replace three culverts along Hominy Ditch at Bethany, Park and Kovener streets to assist with stormwater management within the town.

Then this year, the town received a $550,000 grant to replace the lift station and complete stormwater repairs in and around the intersection of Seymour Road and Cindy Lane.

Now, it’s time for the final compliance project.

"We’ve been trying to chip off little pieces at a time, but now, we come to the point where we have to do the bigger project," Wright said.

Projects in Indianapolis and Louisville have involved digging big tunnels, taking excess stormwater and putting it in the tunnels when it overflows and treating it at a later time. 

"We’re doing that but on a much smaller scale, and we’re putting in an overflow pipe that will flow to the plant and be held inside of a storage tank and then pumped into the plant and treated," Wright said. "Some of it, we’re required to have 100% treated for a certain amount of the flow, and then the rest of the flow will be partially treated and discharged, so you’ll have a separate system inside the plant."

The parallel line will run east of Kovener Street where the sewer line runs along the north side of Hominy Ditch, run down to the plant and be held in storage in a pump station and pumped into the plant, Wright said.

"This will mean that 100% of the flow that stays in the pipe will go into the plant and be treated fully, but then the excess flow will go into this system, and it will go to the EQ basins inside the plant, where it will be subjected to chlorine at that point and go through disinfection and then it will be discharged," Wright said.

A second public hearing to share information about the project was conducted at the start of the Dec. 3 council meeting.

Wright said they looked at several different alternatives on how to address the issues, and the most feasible one was presented to the council.

"Although it is very expensive, it’s the most feasible one," he said. "The other alternative was to basically rehab the entire sewer system in town, which would have been substantially more money. The good thing about this, this will get you immediately in compliance with IDEM and get you out of your agreed order."

Wright said he will help the town seek grant money to try to eliminate some of the other issues inside the system.

"It will allow you to grow but eventually gain some capacity at your plant without having to build onto the plant," he said. "This is long range, and we’ll try to grant fund a lot of that so it will eventually get you there."

Wright said the legislature is looking at substantially expanding resources available through the State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans to Indiana communities for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.

"So there should be money available," he said. "What we’re trying to work on now is to make sure that it’s free money what we can get because obviously, just to finance that amount would just be very difficult for a town this size to be able to afford the payments. It’s not their intent to bankrupt anybody, so I know they will find some way to make this happen one way or another."

Wright said he already has applied for SRF funding, and a project timeline will be submitted to IDEM showing what has been done and what’s ahead. Design for the project will kick off in January.

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