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WCC council and sewage plant

By John Estridge, Editor

West College Corner Town Council discussed drains and streets as well as some crime, but the main topic of conversation was the sewage treatment plant.

The Village of College Corner Town Council has sued WCC in federal court over sewage treatment rates issued by the WCC Town Council.

Storm damage to the sewage plant's electrical board necessitated the increase in rates to the Village. However, the Village apparently thought it was unfair the WCC increase was 2 percent and the Village's increase was around 26 percent.

Attorneys for WCC said the interlocal agreement signed in 2003 calls for proportional increases where the sewage plant is concerned.

While the matter is in the federal court system, the Village refuses to pay the increase in bills. This necessitates the WCC to continue to bill the Village for not only the new rate amount but also the past-due bills for the amount the Village refuses to pay.

In the interim to help the WCC council to pay for a new electrical board, the WCC Town Council has borrowed around $23,000 from Union County. Both the Union County Council and the Union County Commissioners approved the loan.

WCC will pay back the loan plus interest by this time next year.

However, the damage to the electrical board is not the only problems council is having with the sewage treament plant.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management found problems with the phosphorous levels in the lagoons or ponds.

Council member Juanita Fenwick recently met with IDEM officials concerning the non-compliance. The treatment plant opened in 1975, and since its opening, there has not been any industry in College Corner. Thus, the town does not have to give soil samples to IDEM. Soil samples would cost the town $800 per sample, according to Fenwick.

“That means we do not have to take any soil samples at all,” Fenwick said. “If you have industry, you have to take samples from different parts of the town.”

She said IDEM officials also told her the town could take the sludge to farmers in the area if they want it. Taking sludge to landfills cost money to the town.

“It does not cost any money to get a land application (permit),” Fenwick said. “If we had a farmer or a couple of farmers who would be willing to take it as fertilizer, we would apply for the permit. We would have to do a few tests because it is land-applied, but it would not cost us anything.

“The farmer could come pick it up,” she continued. “Or we could deliver it, whatever.”

If no farmers want the sludge, then the town will have to find a landfill to take it.

Earlier in the meeting, Fenwick said a septic service in the area wanted to dump sewage at the plant, but she and others said this was not the time to allow that as the town has enough on its agenda with the sewage plant.

Surface water in the lagoon has to run back through the plant. After that, the town has to haul the sludge off and dig out the lagoon until it gets to pure dirt.

Fenwick will put the proposed procedures into a plan and then submit that plan to IDEM, she said.

If the town has some concrete, it can use it as fill, she said.

Some plans Fenwick has studied from other towns used the lagoon sites to build municipal buildings on.

She does not want to do that, but she said in the next 10 years, the town will have to look at updating its oxidation ditch.

“My thinking was if we did concrete, and we put in a new oxidation ditch, it would have to be similar to what we have,” Fenwick said. “Would we ever use that area for any type of expansion? I think the only type would be that ditch.

“But as we go through this process, I want us to think about ‘do we want use it as a building site?’” she continued. “Because, you can still fill it in with the concrete, but when you go to build on it, then you have to remove the concrete.”

If the town does not use concrete, then it would have to use clean fill, Fenwick said.

“We can advertise for clean fill,” Fenwick said.

IDEM wants to see a two-year plan from the town.

“As long as we’re moving forward, that’s what they want to see,” Fenwick said. “If there is a possibility we could have one lagoon closed in that two years, then they would give us an extension.

She said her two-year plan will include both ponds.

Fenwick said the town is not changing the process, so the town does not have to hire an engineer which will save tens of thousands of dollars.

Piping to the ponds can be capped off instead of removing, which is also cost savings.

Also, there are existing aerial photos, and the town will not have to pay for new ones.

“I feel like it went really, really well up there with IDEM,” Fenwick said. “And we do want to move forward.”

Fenwick said the town just paid off a state revolving loan, but if push comes to shove, the town might look at taking out another loan with the state.

She hopes to have the plan ready to submit to IDEM by the next council meeting.

WCC council is having an interlocal meeting with the Village on Monday, April 15.

Council members said no one will be able to talk about the lawsuit because their attorneys will not be present.

WCC plans to give the Village members copies of every bill that has been spent by WCC for treatment.