SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTHI) - Millions of dollars are going toward big wastewater improvements for one Wabash Valley city.
Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb says the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is requiring the city to decommission its East Lagoon for wastewater treatment. He says the city will replace the lagoon, and design an East Side Mechanical Lift Station for wastewater.
Like many cities across the country, Lamb says Sullivan is also dealing with aging infrastructure. He says the East Lagoon was put in back in the 1960's. Lamb says the Lagoon serves many purposes and improving the system will impact many people.
Lamb shares, "If you live on the East side of the railroad tracks here in the city of Sullivan, when you flush your toilet, when you take a shower, whenever you do your laundry, all of that wastewater eventually goes out to the East Lagoon. It is then pumped back into the city."
Another project required of the city by IDEM is phosphorous removal from the city’s wastewater treatment system.
Mayor Lamb explains, "It's not just the city of Sullivan that is required phosphorous removal for their wastewater treatment plant, that's pretty much something that all municipalities face."
Now, it's time for the city of Sullivan to face these needs head-on. Sullivan was recently awarded a $700 thousand dollar grant. That's to go toward removing the phosphorous and taking the city's East Lagoon out of service. Those projects are slated to cost $2.5 million dollars.
Lamb says, "We are under mandates and a timeline that's required by IDEM. But the city is trying to do everything that we can to be fair to the people of our city."
Unfortunately processes, like removing phosphorous and decommissioning the East Lagoon, aren't cheap. That's why Mayor Lamb says the city has searched for every grant dollar it can.
He says, "The city is not new at this. We continue each and every day to chase every dollar that we possibly can to help relieve the ratepayers of this community that has unfortunately been hammered."
Mayor Lamb says the city hadn't seen a sewer rate increase since 2004. That was to gear up for the last major sewer project.
He says the city council had the tough decision to raise rates ahead of these projects. But he's hopeful to give residents a sigh of relief.
The Mayor says, "There's supposed to be an automatic increase that also continues to take effect this January. And as Mayor of this city, I'm going to request that the Sullivan City Council stop that increase, due to the fact that we were fortunate enough to be able to go out and get grant dollars."
But overall, Lamb says the rate increase is a necessary move for the city's future.
He shares, "If you want to continue to attract people to your city, you've got to make sure the infrastructure is in place to handle that, and that's what we're focused on doing."
Mayor Lamb says the goal is to start work in early 2019 and finish later that year.