Brownstown Town Council approves planning grant contracts


Two firms that have worked with Brownstown on past projects will continue to do so as a wastewater infrastructure project begins.

During the Nov. 16 Brownstown Town Council meeting, a contract presented by Wessler Engineering of Indianapolis to prepare the preliminary engineering report and a contract from Shannon McLeod with Priority Project Resources of Greensburg for the planning grant administration were unanimously approved.

Brent Siebenthal, president of Wessler Engineering, said he estimates the fee being $50,000, which will be covered by the town receiving a $50,000 planning grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to address water infrastructure.

The state distributes the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant funds to rural communities to assist units of local government with various community projects. Planning grants are one type of grants offered through OCRA’s CDBG program.

The grant will allow Brownstown to complete a study to determine the need to replace some of the wastewater treatment system. The town’s local match of $6,000 will come from the wastewater treatment plant operating fund.

Siebenthal said the plan is to have a draft PER within 120 days. The PER is one of OCRA’s requirements and will cover four aspects of the town’s infrastructure.

First would be the Bob Thomas and Vallonia Road lift stations. The 40-plus-year-old Bob Thomas lift station is off of U.S. 50 on the north end of town, and Brownstown Wastewater Utility Superintendent Scott Hunsucker said it’s hard to get parts for it. The 35-year-old Vallonia Road lift station on the southwest side serves 75% of the town and has reached capacity.

Hunsucker also said the lift stations have no automatic transfer switch for storms and must be turned on manually if they shut down.

“We’ve already prepared the PER for those, but I think we still need to do some coordination with the town in terms of a selected alternative,” Siebenthal said.

Another part of the PER is the storm sewer drainage system.

“We would perform GPS mapping and inspections of all of your existing storm structures,” Siebenthal said. “We would prepare a storm system map, and based on our structure inspections, we would be identifying repair, rehab that needs to be done to the structures, maintenance work that needs to be performed and also, we would be looking at known areas of drainage problems and developing alternatives for correcting those.”

Another part is the sanitary collection system.

“We would be building upon the work that was done previously in the systemwide rehab project,” Siebenthal said of the cured-in-place pipe lining project completed in 2017.

“One, you get those sewers that had issues that we were aware of back when we put together the 2010 report that were not rehabilitated with the overall system project,” he said. “And also, talking to Scott about any additional problems in the collection system that he has encountered since that sewer rehab project.”

The final aspect is performing an evaluation of the wastewater treatment plant to identify issues and develop alternative improvements.

Hunsucker said one of the clarifiers at the plant is 35 years old and another is 25 years old, and it’s hard to get parts for them. Clarifiers provide retention to slow water down and separate out suspended particles.

The plant’s ultraviolet light system also is obsolete and needs replaced, Hunsucker said. Ultraviolet light systems disinfect wastewater by destroying disease-causing organisms, which prevents them from reproducing.

Earlier this year, Hunsucker told the council that replacing the two clarifiers could cost $450,000 and the ultraviolet system would cost another $150,000 to replace.

Once the town council reviews the draft PER and makes any comments, Siebenthal said it would be updated within 30 days. Then a timeline for the project could be established.

That would start with the lift stations.

“Our intent would be to begin working with you folks sooner rather than later working through the alternatives,” Siebenthal said.

The PER has to be completed by June 30, 2021, and submitted to OCRA by Sept. 21. Then there will be a public hearing before the planning grant is closed in November 2021.

That will set the town up to develop an OCRA construction grant and look at the State Revolving Fund for a loan for the work in the spring of 2022.

“When these studies are completed, the town will have a blueprint for future storm and sanitary projects to guide us in prioritizing future projects,” Hunsucker said.