Concerns over Wastewater Treatment Plant raised during Oolitic Town Council meeting

OOLITIC – Oolitic residents asked town officials about the pumps at the lift stations for the Wastewater Treatment Plant and what was being done to insure the town is not in violation of Indiana Department of Environmental Management guidelines.

The town uses two pumps with a third pump as a backup, should any pump go out of service. In July 2020 one of those pumps required repairing.

However, the pump that was sent in for repair, was not working when it was returned back in November. Town officials back in April voted not to pay the invoice that was $4,000 reduced down to $3,000 because they felt complete service was not performed.

The company making the repair was Utility Services and since then the town has sent the pump to another company for repairs.

Repairs for the pump requires 6-8 weeks of downtime. The concern over a pump being down and an overflow due to another pump not working is concerning to town officials. A pump not working would cause an overflow and cause compliance issues with IDEM.

The town then voted to purchase new pumps from Schaeffer Supply in the amount of $9,500. They are waiting on delivery of the new pumps.

Anne Norrick, Oolitic Clerk-Treasurer has conducted her own research in regards to the operation of the Waste Water Treatment Plant.

In her research she has discovered that the pumps need to be compatible with one another and at this time one pump operates at 460 amp of horse power and the second at 230 amp of horse power.

Most pumps have a ten to fifteen year life expectancy. Norrick has been contacting various companies to find out what the town can do for preventive measures to keep pumps in good working order, and how to get longer life out of the pumps.

The town will also be looking at the current contract with Utility Services which the town pays $3,556 a month to take care of the water treatment plant. In addition, the town pays Utility Services $800 for drinking water testing.

In a contract with Utility Services, the cost for operation of the plant is $42,672 a year, and the testing is an additional $9,600 a year, according to Norrick.

Previously, the town had an employee who worked at the plant but quit because the town refused to pay him more money or hire another person.

The town originally did its own testing which had its own laboratory and had trained personnel to perform the required work.

The town also receives a bill for $6,000 to have the solids removed from the plant. The solids from the plant are spread over local fields in the area. The wastewater plant holds 105,000 gallons of waste.

The person who empties out the waste currently removes the solids once a year. He would like to remove the waste twice a year but Utility Services only wants it performed one time a year. The cost of solid removal is a flat fee of $650 for the service and 5 1/2 cents a gallon for what they pump out.

A total of 98,000 gallons of waste was pumped out of the treatment plant. This equates to about 14 loads from the plant. With a total of three trucks over the coarse of approximately 1-3 days.

The capacity is 105,000 gallons. This capacity can easily be exceeded with heavy rain fall. Oolitic has recorded receiving 40-inches of rain in one year. This would require the facility to be pumped out but the waste cannot be delivered to those fields due to muddy conditions. Which will also cause an overflow at the plant.

It was stated they can do a second removal of waste for $650 a year.

According to Norrick, some of the solutions will be using the American Rescue Plan Grant to look at the operation of the wastewater plant and evaluate whether the town is in compliance with state and federal regulations, and start the process of performing preventive work. Norrick also recommended paying $7,650 for the plant to be emptied twice a year.

Future plans for the facility will be based on what will be more effective for the town to do to be fiscally responsible and not be threatened with sanctions from the IDEM for non-compliance.

Town Council Jon Broglin and Zac Bell have been approved to attend a seminar on wastewater issues.

Oolitic Clerk-Treasurer Norrick will continue to keep the residents informed on this issue.