Whitley County Commissioners discuss Huntertown’s proposed wastewater plant

The Huntertown Council is proposing the construction of a wastewater treatment facility that will dump treated discharge into the Geller Ditch on Hand Road, which is a tributary of the Eel River three and a half miles from the Whitley County line.

The proposed facility would have the ability to treat one-and-one-half million gallons of discharge per day, though Frederickson said the drainage would not exceed 1,100 gallons per day. The project is still in its preliminary stages as the Council dialogues with the County Drainage Board and the County Surveyor to clear up ditch maintenance issues. 

Huntertown’s 2,814 sewer customers plus in-flow received during a storm produce an average of 575,000 gallons of waste- water per day. 

Huntertown’s waste- water is currently metered and sent to Fort Wayne for treatment.

Frederickson presented the Commissioners with flow data for different levels of storm events and a map of the area to give them a conceptual idea of where Huntertown plans to discharge and compare it to the magnitude of what is currently flowing in the ditch. 

The treatment plant would be equipped with a 20-million-gallon basin to store treated discharge in the event of high levels in the ditch or an unforeseen natural disaster. The basin would provide several days of storage. Huntertown currently discharges less than 600,000 gallons per day, Frederickson said, so the basin would initially offer 30 days of storage.  The one-and-one-half million gallon capacity allows for growth in Huntertown. 

Vice Chairman of Commissioners Don Amber told Frederickson up-front, “Whitley County has no dog in the hunt between Huntertown and Fort Wayne, so don’t think that we do, but I live in Churubusco, so I am concerned about additional flow into the Eel River.” 

Amber said he is not very concerned about the day-to-day operations of the plant, but rather, he is very concerned about spring floods.

“Those Columbia Township farmers can’t take anymore water out of the Eel River,” he said. 

Frederickson assured Amber and the Board that in the event of high water levels in the Eel River, an operator at the plant would shut off the pumps and activate the storage basin. He also said that although the plans are still in the works, they hope to set aside money in the budget for a telemetry-type system to monitor levels in the ditch and communicate that information with the plant. 

Amber said he wants to know how the back-up storage will be activated. 

“I have a concern not about your quality, but about your quantity,” he said, “and is the operator really going to be willing to flip the switches? We’re talking the human aspect here. I know you can do it, but how willing are they going to be to do it if we say, ‘Please stop sending us water?’” 

Frederickson said the plant design and process are still in the works, but he assured the Commissioners that the Huntertown Town Council takes the project very seriously and they have established a high standard when it comes to the project. 

The next Whitley County Commissioners meeting will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 17 in the Jason Smith Auditorium at Churubusco High School. Gary Smith’s Government Class will pose questions to the Commissioners in addition to the regularly scheduled agenda.

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