Medora pursuing funding to improve utility system


Medora officials have learned it will cost more than $3 million to perform work on the wastewater, stormwater and drinking water system.

Midwestern Engineers Inc. of Loogootee studied the system, which was installed in the 1960s, and is in the process of submitting the findings to the state to see if the town qualifies for grant funding.

The original deadline was Nov. 30, 2020, but that was extended 60 days, so it’s now due by the end of this month.

Medora Town Council President Jerry Ault said there could be funding from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, U.S. Department of Agriculture and State Revolving Fund. Around $1.3 million of the project would be for the sewer laterals.

“It’s worth a shot if we’re able to fix it all. We’ll try for the whole shebang, and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll just cut back and do the main lines,” Ault said.

“It doesn’t hurt to ask. You don’t get anything if you don’t ask,” Councilman Jim Davers said.

After the state reviews and approves the findings, a public hearing will be conducted within a month or two.

Ault said part of the town’s system has been worked on in the past.

Steve Ingle, who manages the town’s sewer and water departments, said the system comprised of clay pipes has lived its life.

Since it’s a sanitary sewer, nothing should be going in there except sanitation out of people’s home and businesses, said Jon Craig, business development manager for Midwestern Engineers. Clay tile has a lot of cracks the older it gets, and that allows more groundwater to get in, he said.

Ingle said some sections of the system are clogged because of tree roots. Plus, he said people have sump pumps and downspouts hooked to the sewer, and they shouldn’t be.

Craig said Ingle told him the drinking water system is in the best shape, but a lot of work is needed on the wastewater and stormwater sides.

With Medora being in a low area, Craig said there are problems with inflow and infiltration and water getting into the system that shouldn’t be there. That should be taken care of through stormwater management and separating parts of the system.

During the recent council meeting, Ault also discussed a low water crossing in town that needs attention. Ingle said he recently filled it, but that’s already about gone.

“That’s a ticking time bomb there,” Ault said. “That thing needs to be replaced bad. I had an engineer check the hydraulics on it, and there’s over 500 acres that drains through there between two hollers, and it would take a culvert big enough to drive your truck through.”

Since it involves a creek that runs through town, Ingle said it’s possible to have the Department of Natural Resources look at it and cover expenses to fix it.

Also, the council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to increase the water and sewer connection fee from $250 to $750.

“That is for service connection to our mains, which we still go in the hole even at that, but before, the $250 didn’t even cover the parts required to make the connection,” Ingle said.

The fee for a new tap-on to the main line will be $750 for water only, $750 for sewer only or $1,500 for both.

Town attorney Matt Lorenzo said a public hearing will be conducted during the next council meeting, set for 6 p.m. Feb. 8 at the town hall, and then the council will consider approval of the second and final reading.