News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 10, 2012

Effort under way to reduce sewage, stormwater dumped into Wabash

TERRE HAUTE — Imagine a 100-acre swimming pool 20 feet deep. Filling that pool would require 690 million gallons of water.

That’s how much combined stormwater and raw sewage the city of Terre Haute dumps into the Wabash River in a typical year.

During Friday’s Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability conference at Indiana State University, City Engineer Chuck Ennis explained how local taxpayers and sewer ratepayers will help reduce that volume from 690 million gallons to about 60 million gallons per year.

The city’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) plan will capture about 96 percent of the city’s overflow into the Wabash River, Ennis said during an afternoon session of the conference, which is concluding today on the ISU campus.

Sections of Terre Haute’s sewer system date back to the end of the 19th century, Ennis said. That means the same underground tunnels that handle stormwater runoff and also raw sewage.

Before 1962, all of that flowed directly into the river. Since 1962, the combination of stormwater and raw sewage only overflows into the river during a significant rain, he said.

But now, thanks to a federal mandate, the city’s property tax and sewer ratepayers must pay for a multi-million-dollar fix to the system.

“That’s the hand we were dealt,” Ennis said.

Terre Haute is dealing with the problem in two giant pieces. One is a roughly $140 million upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant — something that will double the plant’s holding capacity. The second piece is a 20-year, $120 million plan to divert, store and dispose of the city’s combined sewer overflow without letting it reach the Wabash River.

The upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant is being funded by increases in local sewer rates. The CSO plan is being covered by sewer rate increases and property tax revenue, Ennis said.

Terre Haute is not unique. Thanks to the 1974 federal Clean Water Act, all river cities with combined storm- and wastewater sewage systems are facing the same expense, Ennis said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is enforcing the Clean Water Act, uses the presence of E. coli — essentially animal waste — as its “yardstick” for measuring how clean or dirty a river is, Ennis said. At present, the city of Terre Haute contributes about 12 percent of the E. coli you would find in the Wabash River immediately downstream from the city, he said. The rest comes from smaller communities upstream, agricultural sources and from animals living in the wild, he said. E coli only survives for a few days, so Terre Haute’s Wabash River E. coli count is not affected by more distant upstream communities such as Lafayette, Ennis said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 28th 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity