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Cities work to eliminate combined-sewer overflows

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A Tell City project years in the making and called historic by the city’s mayor kicked off in April with words of praise and the cutting of a red ribbon at the community’s soon-to-be-expanded wastewater treatment plant.

The ceremony marked the formal start of Tell City’s $12 million effort to eliminate combination-sewer overflows, a construction job that will take place over about 18 months and eliminate discharges of wastewater that occur during periods of rain.

Work on the project advanced throughout the summer and fall, closing portions of Washington Street.

Bowen Engineering of Indianapolis was awarded an $8,923,000 construction bid earlier in the year, but Ewing said the company is using local products and area subcontractors such as Can-Clay, Mulzer Crushed Stone and H&H Electric.

Tell City received a $4.4 million grant to help pay for the project, which will greatly expand the capacity of the treatment plant to handle wastewater and stormwater. A $7.9 million low-interest loan is funding the balance of the work.

Like many communities along the Ohio River, the oldest areas of Tell City have combined sewers, meaning waste and stormwater commingle and are treated together at the plant.

The project will separate flows in some areas and will divert waste that would have been discharged during rainy periods into Windy Creek or the Ohio River. Those flows will be funneled to the treatment plant.

In a sperate grant-funded project, Tell City is constructing a new pump station and installing a line to help reduce sewer backups along portions of Windy Creek.

Cannelton Charts CSO Improvements

The News reported in December 2009 that Cannelton officials opted to revise an earlier plan for dealing with the merging of storm and sewer water. Under the revised plan, an existing 100,000-gallon storage basin would be modified and one 100,000-gallon and a 50,000-gallon basin would be added to the city’s system.

New pumps would be installed, but would be the same size as existing units. CSOs wouldn’t be eliminated, but the basins would have a combined capacity to hold the amount of water that can be expected to fall within the heaviest hour of the statistically worst 24-hour rainfall in 10 years, complying with an IDEM standard.

Editor's note: The following information was omitted from the print edition:

The city' leaders reversed course again last year based on an engineer's recommendation that most of the storm and sanitary lines were already separated, and it would likely be cheaper and easier to complete their separation than find space for and fund the tanks. They then turned their attention toward securing funding for that option and increased a fee charged to residents to reflect a higher cost for sending sewage to Tell City for treatment.