Winona Lake Council Receives Chemical Spill Update

WINONA LAKE — Grace College bonds and the lake were main topics of conversation Tuesday evening, July 21, during the regular meeting of the Winona Lake Town Council.

At the top of the agenda was an ordinance establishing a $10 million bond issue for Grace College to build a new dorm. The ordinance was introduced and read for the first time and will be on the table for review before the Aug. 21, council meeting, at which time it will receive a final vote.

The Winona Lake Plan Commission has already heard and unanimously approved the ordinance. Town attorney James Walmer also noted that it complies with the city’s zoning ordinance.

Dr. Nate Bosch of the Center for Lakes and Streams visited the council and gave an update on February’s chemical spill into Winona Lake. He noted that around 325,000 gallons of chemical-laden water washed into the lake following a fire at Warsaw Chemical Co. [See related: Fire At Warsaw Chemical] 

According to Bosch, two additional, smaller spills have occurred since.

Bosch told the council that 22,000 gallons are now contained and that testing took place for 58 different chemicals, including methanol. In some cases, chemicals were discovered that were not anticipated. However, Bosch added, because Winona Lake contains roughly 5 billion gallons of water, the chemicals are safely diluted.

He also introduced a study describing ways to monitor the lake and keep it healthy. Bosch added that the lakes are a major source of income for Kosciusko County and that an occurrence like blue-green algae could harm the local economy. Thus, he said, prevention is key through development of a rapid screening process.

In other news:

  • The board heard an update on the sidewalk/trail agreement. The current greenway project is under construction through a matching grant from the K-21 Foundation.
  • The board voted to approve advertisement for the sale of a setback of land adjoining the property of a former resident who currently lives in the Netherlands but still owns property in Winona Lake. He expressed interest in purchasing the land because of improvements he wishes to make to his property, however the town is required to advertise it for sale to the general public, giving anyone who wishes the chance to make a bid.
  • Town Engineer Larry Long noted the pilings for the new street lights on the island have been put into place and that underground conduits are being run.
  • Local residents expressed concern over the number of flags being used to mark the locations of underground utilities, stating that the flags are difficult to mow around. It was explained that each company involved in the street light installation was required to have the utilities marked, hence the number of flags.
  • Residents also expressed concern over flooding on Pierceton Road. They were told the situation is being looked into and it is likely a new storm drain will be the solution, but the town and property owners will need to get together and look at the situation more closely.
  • The bike path program is on hold due to several spots with bad soil. Likely a concrete fill mixture will be used in those places.

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