News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 22, 2013

Spring flooding damages future CSO holding lagoon

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Flood waters from the Wabash River have done costly damage to one of the city-owned “lagoons” on former International Paper property.

Recent high water has created a 30- to 40-foot hole in one of the three lagoons set to become giant holding areas for combined wastewater and stormwater, said Chuck Ennis, city engineer.

Speaking Tuesday to the Terre Haute Board of Sanitary Commissioners, who oversee the city’s sanitary district, Ennis said the damage from the flood water will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair.

The “lagoons,” as they’ve become known as, are three small ponds covering about three dozen acres of river-front property not far from the Interstate 70 overpass. According to city plans, the ponds will temporarily store “combined sewer overflow,” or CSO, which is a combination of stormwater and sewage that currently overflows into the Wabash River during a significant rain. Federal law requires the city dramatically reduce CSO dumping into the Wabash and the lagoons are part of a federally-approved long term plan to handle the city’s CSO.

Cost estimates are being prepared to fix the damaged lagoon, Ennis told the sanitary commissioners. The lagoon’s wall will be reinforced so future flooding will not cause the same problem, he said.

Funding for the multi-million-dollar CSO project is coming from increased sewer rates within the sanitary district. The former IP lagoons should be a functioning part of the city’s upgraded CSO system by the end of next year, Ennis said.

n City officials plan to speak today with Indiana environmental officials about the proposed cleanup of a former industrial dump site on the east bank of the Wabash River on the south side of town.

The city owns more than 30 acres of property formerly part of Sugar Creek Scrap, a West Terre Haute-based firm. The property is littered with old vehicles, industrial barrels, tires and other debris. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency verified significant levels of lead in the soil as well.

Ennis told the board of commissioners the city hopes to learn from the state what level of health protections will be required for workers hired to clean up the site so those requirements can be included in specifications for the project. The city hopes to advertise for bids for the clean up soon in order to remain on schedule, he said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or