NEW PALESTINE — New Palestine town officials are moving forward with a nearly $6 million sewer plant renovation that could raise residents’ rates by almost $150 a year.
No residents spoke out against the $5.97 million project at a recent public hearing, a necessary legal step as town officials prepared to submit a preliminary engineering report to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management as required by the State Revolving Fund loan program.
The age and condition of the town’s sewer plant, 4772 S. County Road 450W, first built in the 1970s and last upgraded in 2000, has town officials working with engineers to design a new plant and make major improvements to local sewer lines. The plant currently serves 960 customers, officials said.
If funding and plans are approved, residents would face a sewer rate increase of about $12 per month.
A recent study by Indianapolis-based Triad Associates found many components at the sewer plant need to be replaced or updated.
The rate increase triggered by the project is not expected to exceed $12 per month, which will give most single-family residences a bill of about $56 a month. Average monthly increases for businesses have not been calculated, as they vary widely by size and number of employees, officials said.
“If we have more growth (in town), we’ll share that cost with more users, then that rate can come down,” added Dave Book, town manager.
Building a new sewer plant should put the town in a good position to handle growth through the next 20 years, as well as increase the current annual plant revenue of $780,000 by more than $162,000 per year, town officials said.
Proposed plant work includes replacing and adding components, making process modifications and upgrading equipment where needed.
Work to the collection system involves modifications to lift stations and installing gravity lines and force mains in specific areas in order to eliminate double pumping.
The improvements are expected to result in reduced maintenance and increased efficiency and make for better operating conditions. Capacity will increase from from 23,000 to 400,000 gallons per day, officials said.
Officials are hoping plans, including financing, will come together during the next several months, with construction on the new building set to begin in summer 2017.
There will be no interruption in service because the new facility will be constructed alongside the old one, which will be demolished as soon as the new sewer plant is operational.
The preliminary engineering report has been approved by the town council and is pending approval by the State Revolving Loan program.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management also must review the plans before allowing engineers to finalize a project design.
Town officials are hoping to seek contractor bids for the project in March 2017. Once financing is finalized, construction can start, project officials said.