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Town dealing with sewage issues

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CLOVERDALE -- Since the town's $5 million sewer treatment plant was completed in March of 2008, there have been numerous problems.

The utility board has already taken steps to correct some of those problems, such as hiring a class two operator to manage the plant. However, the big problem has yet to be resolved and the board is desperately trying to find a solution.

The raw sewage pump was found to not be operating properly. It is either in on or off mode. There should be a variable speed mode to help prevent overflow issues. After a small rainfall, the plant overflows. Following a large rainfall, raw sewage is being spilled into Doe Creek.

The plant was designed to support the community through 20 years of growth. However, it is less than two years later, the town has not seen any growth -- in fact, it has shrunk in size -- and the plant is having overflow problems.

So, the utility board wants to know if the problem is a design flaw or an operational problem.

Engineer Mike Hunter with Triad, the company that designed the plant, was present at the utility board meeting Tuesday. He told board members the problem is not in the design of the pump, but an operational matter. Hunter also said the data used to design the plant was inconsistent.

However, Indiana Department of Environmental Management made a courtesy visit to the plant on June 24 and noted no operational problems. IDEM's concern is the overflow spilling into the creek caused by the malfunctioning raw sewage pump.

After several attempts at finding the exact problem and therefore a solution, the utility board voted to bring in a third party -- an engineer. Utility board president Don Sublett agreed to contact town attorney Allen Yackey for references on an outside engineer.

To help cover the cost of the engineer, the board is looking into a grant. During its meeting Tuesday, board members discussed the matter with grant writer Shannon McCloud.

In addition, utility board member Terry Puffer said the contract Cloverdale holds with Altra Biofuels to help dispose of its waste is not compounding the problem. He said the town is in control of when waste is brought through the plant from the biofuels plant.

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This is quite unacceptable. With the amount of money we are being charged for our water/sewer bills, I think the town can get something done, and quickly, to keep this overspill from running into the creeks and causing harm to nature and animals. This should be against the law and fines should be imposed if not immediately corrected.

-- Posted by tatertot on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 3:16 AM

It sure is a big problem. It also has big consequences because it is against the law. The laws and regulations for sewage treatment make the process extremely costly.

Small towns are struggling all across the country with treatment costs. The worst case scenario would be for the town to sell out to a private company.

Seems like the town is on the right track to find the problem. Forget hiring the engineer, it'll take months to get one and he will only say "oh, heck, it's a bad pump."

-- Posted by Xgamer on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 4:47 AM

When is the IDEM going to do something about the contamination of the creeks in Putnam County? When is the county going to step in and put a stop to this? Alta and Cloverdale need to be fined and held responsible for the clean-up of our creeks. They are contaming Leiber State Park and the lake. When is the state going to do something?

-- Posted by Hazel on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 5:34 AM

Every time it overflows, it goes into Doe Creek, which goes into Cataract lake. I know there are some nasty places around the lake, but the main problem is Cloverdale sewage.

-- Posted by sad_but_true on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 11:13 AM

Last time I read, the project was $2.8 million, when did it become $5 million? Is it true that the council fired the operator of the plant just a couple of days after IDEM had been there (and found no operation problems) and hired an operator that came from a plant that doesn't even operate the same as Cloverdale's, and had to be trained by the ex-operator on how to even run testing requirements? Once again, spend money on an attorney to spend money on another engineer to spend money on repairing the problem. When is Cloverdale going to realize what the biggest problem they have is?

-- Posted by sadNmad on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 2:42 PM

If you don't like the amount we are being charged for sewer now.. who do you think will be charged to pay fines? Plus the problem will still need to be fixed. Who's going to be charged for that?

-- Posted by Pojo on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 8:09 AM

A sewage overflow from Cloverdale to Cattaract Lake is like a toddler wetting in a city pool.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 4:33 PM

I would suspect Cloverdale will soon be looking at a state imposed sewer ban, which means no new connects to the system (ie, new homes, business and industries)until the problem is corrected. The sooner they get this handled, the better it will be for all concerned.

-- Posted by localman on Fri, Jul 31, 2009, at 6:49 AM

Cloverdale is on a sewer ban, but I heard that didn't stop the council from allowing one of their real estate friends from hooking on. For years, every time that town gets leadership in that has the ability to move them forward, you vote in a group that couldn't pour water out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel, that is why I moved away from there and invested elsewhere years ago, and that is why you continue to have the same issues year after year. I don't think that sewer facility was built to solve the problem because it needed replaced years ago, that facility was built to take care of immediate issues and align yourselves to attack the real issues, and with proper operation should last beyond 20 years. Now, if it takes an attorney, engineers, and the council to figure you have a transducer (or whatever controls are used) that isn't operating on a pump, it would be of great concern just how my money is being utilized.

-- Posted by sadNmad on Fri, Jul 31, 2009, at 10:11 PM

Bootwater dispensing guidelines are a lawyer's cash cow in Cloverdale.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Sun, Aug 2, 2009, at 7:23 AM

It is insane that the town would fire the previous operator and bring in an operator that doesn't even know the first thing about running this type of plant. And to top it all off they had the previous operator train him right before they gave him the boot. In my opinion it sounds like the previous operator was doing something right if IDEM agrees that it was not an operational error. Just goes to show that your wonderful town board has once again screwed up.

But that seems to be fairly common around town, I mean just look at the utility manager who lied several times on his application to get the job.

-- Posted by first hand knowledge on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 5:35 PM

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