City water items get attention of Council
No sooner had the City of Greencastle seemingly weathered its water treatment operator issue than it finds itself with a vacancy at the top of the utility department.
Rob Lovell, who had served as superintendent of the city's water and wastewater departments since June 2013, has resigned the Greencastle post to pursue another opportunity.
He is being replaced at present by a trio of veterans from the city utility department -- Ed Phillips, whose late father Leon was the city's longtime water superintendent, and who spoke to the Council Tuesday night; Oscar King, the assistant utility superintendent; and Tom Swenson, another public works employee who began his city career 10 years ago as an assistant to the city engineer.
Mayor Bill Dory said he has asked King, Phillips and Swenson to work as a team until city officials can figure out a game plan for replacing Lovell, who was one of the city's WT-5 operators required by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
King and Phillips also have achieved WT-5 status, which recently gave the city the required number of licensed operators to function 24/7 without a remote monitoring effort.
Meanwhile, with the water situation in Flint, Mich., and other locales grabbing headlines, Phillips took a few moments to assure city officials and the public that the Greencastle water quality continues to be fine.
"I know everyone is concerned about lead in the water," Phillips said. "We're fine. Our next due date for testing is 2017."
He explained that the city routinely adds phosphate to the lines keep lead and copper from leaching into the water.
City water isn't just free of lead concerns, it's passed muster all around.
"It's not just lead," Phillips added, "we've had no violations in general."
Mayor Dory thanked the utility trio for their "team effort," while Council President Adam Cohen concurred.
"We appreciate you stepping up and helping us sort this all out," Cohen said.
Meanwhile, the third of three scheduled rate increases adopted in October 2014 to fund IDEM-ordered changes to the city's water and wastewater system went into effect on the February city utility bills.
City Clerk-Treasurer Lynda Dunbar reminded the Council earlier this week that residents' utility bills will see "a slight increase on sewage only" with the latest billing (January usage, payable February).
The minimum user, currently paying $19.07, will see that jump to $21.82 with the additional 14.4 percent sewage rate that took effect Jan. 1.
Anyone with questions can call the Greencastle utility office at 653-2638.
Back in October 2014, the three-phase rate increases approved were:
-- A 47 percent water rate increase, that went into effect Nov. 1, 2014.
-- An initial 11 percent sewage rate increase, that went into effect Nov. 1, 2014.
-- A second sewage rate increase of 14.4 percent, that became effective Jan. 1, 2016.
The Greencastle City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 at City Hall.