MILFORD — Milford Town Council is currently wrestling with how to bring its ailing utilities into compliance with new regulations by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. A preliminary report, presented at the monthly public meeting June 13, by Ryan Brown of Wessler Engineering, puts the cost of compliance at more than $1,200,000.
IDEM’s regulations require utilities to remove phosphorous from wastewater. Milford will meet the first deadline, which requires presenting a plan to IDEM by Aug. 1. However, construction must begin by April 2017, limiting Milford’s options for finding outside funding among the dwindling number of highly sought-after grants.
“You don’t have much time to think about it,” Brown warned.
Strictly speaking, the Wessler report puts the price of construction related to compliance at $207,000. This involves replacing the plant’s return activated sludge pumps, which run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have been a constant source of trouble.
Much of the $1,200,000 price tag is due to Milford’s “unusual” wastewater plant, which, Brown observed, is better suited to a much larger city with a higher flow rate. But those changes will start a chain reaction affecting the entire system, starting with 55 percent more bagging of solid waste, a job currently done by hand for up to 12 hours per week. Brown added cutting corners would result in many problems down the line, with Wessler being blamed for a “lousy system we designed.”
Nevertheless, council president Dan Cochran remained convinced there are “answers for each bullet point” to be found that better suit “current economic conditions of this town.”
“We don’t want to break the bank complying,” councilman Doug Ruch agreed.
In the coming weeks, utilities employees Steve Marquart and Mark Brubaker will be working with council members to find those answers. Brown also suggested a walk through of the system. “Eyes tell you more than you read.”
The council voted to allow town clerk Joellen Free to contact rate consultant Umbaugh and Associates about “financing for what we think we have to buy,” said Ruch.