City to do emergency fix

Thursday, December 21, 2006
Greencastle High School Student Council members Hilary Schroeder (left) and Emily Dean put hands on the Riley Hospital Caring and Sharing tree in the school's lobby. The student sold the hands to students and staff, raising a total of $300. The sophomore class purchased the most Riley hands, 86 in total, out of the four classes.

For the second time in about a month, problems with the city's sewage system have prompted Greencastle officials to declare an emergency.

On Wednesday, the Greencastle Board of Works issued a warning for a section of failing sewer pipe on U.S. 231 South near Putnam County Hospital.

This comes after the board ordered emergency repairs to a sewage lift station near Lear Corporation, on the city's East Side, in November.

Citing health concerns, city officials voted unanimously on Wednesday to spend $65,000 to replace the deteriorated section of buried pipe that serves the hospital and several homes in the area.

Sewer Plant Manager George Russell said the cast iron pipe, which runs on the west side of the highway between Primrose Lane and the hospital has been eroded in 17 different spots, causing liquid sewage to leak into the soil.

He said he is concerned about the sewage finding its way into the ditch that also runs along the west side of the road and leads to a small creek.

"We made the decision to go ahead with this because of the health issues associated with it," Russell said.

He said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is aware of the situation but that officials there were told the city would be addressing the problem. If the city failed to act in a timely manner, however, IDEM could issue fines to the city or take more serious action.

Chosen by the city on Wednesday, Spiker Excavating of Greencastle will need a couple of weeks to gather materials and begin installing the new line, Russell said.

The effects of the work on residents should be minimal.

Russell said residents living near the sewer pipe should not experience any disruption in service while the old pipe is disconnected and the new one is put in place.

Russell said crews should not have to dig up the front yards of residents living along the pipe either because the equipment allows them to install it without disturbing the soil. There will, however, be some digging at the beginning and end of the pipe in order to connect it with the older sections, Russell said.

He said the pipe has simply eroded over time due to the high Ph, or phosphate levels, in the soil.

"It's just kept eating holes in it," Russell said.

Spiker will replace the iron with PVC plastic pipe which should be more durable over time and will resist corrosion.

Mayor Nancy Michael, who sits on the Board of Works with Sue Murray and Thom Morris, said she agrees the emergency repairs are necessary. She said the city had planned to replace the line next year, however, the recent breaks in it have made it necessary to move forward with the repairs.

"It wasn't anticipated tht we would do this in 2006, but we have the ability to do it and we will," Michael said.

Meanwhile, the city is moving forward with making repairs to the sewage lift station it learned was a problem last month.

Lift stations are underground tanks that help move wastewater through the city's network of sewage pipes. There are about 15 stations strategically located throughout the city that help pump wastewater to the treatment plant.

City Engineer Glen Morrow said waste products from manufacturing at Lear Corporation are to blame for the pumps at the nearby lift station becoming clogged and malfunctioning.

Morrow said during this week's meeting that he would recommend asking Lear to install its own equipment to grind the waste material before it leaves the plant in order to avoid any future problems with the lift station which serves most of the industries and homes in that area.

City officials have estimated a cost of between $40,000 and $50,000 for the new pump at the lift station. At last month's meeting, the mayor said repairs would cost around $120,000.

The Board of Works meets at 4 p.m. on the third Wednesday at city hall.

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