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Huntertown hears yeas, nays on wastewater plant

– An equal number of people spoke in favor of and against Huntertown’s application for a $14.3 million state revolving fund loan to build a new wastewater treatment plant on Hathaway Road.

About 40 people showed up at the Huntertown Utilities Service Board meeting Thursday to hear Huntertown’s plan to build its own wastewater treatment plant.

The town hopes to break away from Fort Wayne City Utilities, which has treated the town’s sewage since 1988.

Larry Niemi, president of the Lakes at Willow Creek Homeowners Association in Huntertown, said he was “100 percent in favor of the proposed project” and that most of the neighborhood’s residents were in favor, as well.

Vince Heiny, an attorney who used to serve on the Huntertown Utilities Service Board, said a factor to consider was City Utilities’ $240 million combined sewer overflow problem.

If that problem is completely resolved, the cost will double, Heiny said, indicating increased costs could be passed on to ratepayers.

Several Eel River Township residents who are not Huntertown ratepayers spoke against the project because the proposed path of the pipe from the wastewater plant would travel 4 miles west in an agricultural area along Hathaway Road and into Eel River Township.

The discharge site of the treated water would disperse into Geller Ditch and Eel River.

“I still have major concerns about the flooding issue,” said John Smith, a farmer in Eel River Township. “I understand what you’re saying – that this is supposed to be very clean water, but I’ll let you be the first to take a drink.”

Another farmer, Lenny Shank, who owns property along Hathaway Road, also voiced concerns about the flooding and degradation of Geller Ditch.

In a preliminary presentation, Derek Frederickson, an engineering consultant for the town, said the plant permit application outlines a more environmentally friendly facility than a previous plan the town had submitted to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. That plan was denied by IDEM two years ago, and the new plans were submitted last month.

Frederickson said positives to Huntertown building its own plant included controlling the growth and reaping the revenues of that growth and maintaining lower utility rates.

But Ted Nitza, a consultant for City Utilities, said the second plan had several key components left out that Fredrickson had failed to mention.

A 10 million gallon treated water storage basin has been cut, Nitza said.

“The storage basin would have provided safety and security to Eel River residents during high water and flooding events,” he said.

Also cut was equipment that would have measured downstream levels that would have triggered the storage of treated water during rain events, he said.

“In addition, Huntertown is now proposing land application of sewage sludge on neighboring farmland,” and those details are not available in the preliminary engineering report, Nitza added.