WARSAW — County Attorney Chad Miner talked to the Kosciusko County Council Thursday night, March 8, about upcoming funding for the early stages of a regional sewer district for Tippecanoe Lake and possibly both Chapman Lakes. Miner re-iterated to the council that appropriations of approximately $145,000 would be forthcoming to help pay for studies such as the vital preliminary engineering report.
“We have a consensus of doing a regional sewer district,” Miner said.
But, for those who may live within city limits, or for rural residents who reside far from the nearest lake, understanding what a regional sewer district is can be akin to fully grasping theoretical physics.
“This can be a confusing issue,” said Miner, who started to boil down the key points of the issue early Friday morning, March 9, in a telephone conversation.
According to Miner, a municipality such as Warsaw had to decide, for public health reasons many years ago, to establish a sewer system. The concept is nearly as old as human civilization itself. The city government would then plan for the funding and construction of such a system. Warsaw has had a sewer system for much of its incorporated existence.
But, what about largely-populated areas such as those outside of city limits and around lakes? Having a sewer system is proven to improve the environment in terms of raising water quality as older systems of septic tanks allow for some leaching into the lake. In addition, populations balloon in these areas because of the allure of living on a lake.
But, there is no municipality to coordinate the monumental task of building a system of pipes and a treatment plant. That’s where several options are available to those non-city-dwelling lake residents. One option, Miner said, was to establish a conservancy district. The other is the establishment of a regional sewer district.
According to Miner, residents from the Tippecanoe Lake area expressed a desire to have a sewer system installed around the lake located in the northeast quadrant of the county. Their plan, if no other option availed itself, was to create a conservancy district and a hearing is scheduled for March 29 for that very issue. Miner said that conservancy districts can be effective for sewer projects, but stressed that those entities can also be involved in other lake-area issues while a regional sewer district is strictly for sewer construction and maintenance.
The as-yet unnamed sewer district is still in the planning stages but the engineering report is a major first step in establishing this vital entity that would oversee the planning, building and maintaining of sewer around Tippecanoe Lake and possibly the Chapman Lake chain.
If the district is approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the district would be off and running, likely issuing bonds to help finance the construction. Once construction was completed, residents would likely incur hook-up fees and then would likely be charged a monthly fee to help pay for the continuing operations of the system. These costs have created some resistance in the past in establishing regional sewer districts, Miner said.
“Sewer is frequently a controversial issue,” Miner said. “I’m sure there are still people on Lake Tippy who don’t want sewer. The lake quality on Lake Tippy is currently very good. But, as you get more and more people on the lake, you do reach a point when it’s just the right thing to do.”
In other business, the council:
- Approved additional appropriations for the County Health Department of $10,000.
- Approved additional appropriations for the County Highway Department of $1,450.
- Approved additional appropriations for the County Sheriff’s Department of $906.10.
- Approved additional appropriations for the County Community Corrections of $202,200.
- Approved additional appropriations for the Bell Memorial Library of approximately $11,000.
- Agreed to keep the county’s Wheel Tax at its current rate. In 2017, the county received $2,703,604.48 from the wheel tax.