Fines thwart sewer mishaps at Blue Lake



CHURUBUSCO — Members of the Blue Lake Conservancy District said incidents are few and far between after implementing a fee to its freeholders.

After consistent after-hours service calls and broken sewer pumps, officials issued a letter to all people within the district, stating they will have to pay the price for the issues they caused — flushing the wrong things down the toilet.

“After people starting receiving violations and fees, now I don’t get calls unless something happened on our end,” said Rick Hamilton, maintenance supervisor.

Hamilton said some locations were having clogged pumps 3-4 times a week. Now, he hasn’t had a service call where the user was at fault since January.

The Conservancy District was considering having to raise sewer rates to keep up with the cost of replacing pumps, ruined by clogs, and paying for after-hours service.

For any service call that is caused by the use of anything not biodegradable, the user is charged $35.

It gets much more pricey if a pump has to be replaced — between $1,600 and $3,000.

Hamilton said the pumps have grinders in them. If the pump is running at full speed, it can manage grinding up much of what is flushed. The problem is when the pump shuts off and attempts to restart with non-biodegradable waste inside.

“Don’t put stuff in there that shouldn’t be,” Hamilton said.

Those items include, but aren’t limited to: wipes, tampons, sanitary napkins, carpet pieces, diapers, clothing, cotton swabs and the “worst” offender, grease.

Officials say grease may go down the drain easily while it is hot, but as soon as it hits the cold water in the pipes, it solidifies and ruins pumps.

Also discussed at the March 6 meeting:

• Ron Rennaker was re-elected to Area 4 of the Conservancy District.

• The district will look to put $75,000 into a CD to save money for future projects.

• The Department of Natural Resources has approved the town of Churubusco and the Conservancy District to move forward with their agreement to accept 92 sewer customers on the east side of Blue Lake that are currently overseen by the town. Officials have said that the additional customers should not affect the rates for current customers.

• A resident gave a letter to the Conservancy District regarding access to public records from the entity.

He requested to have access to information about the entity within seven business days, or he may pursue Indiana’s Public Access Counselor for reinforcement.