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Wastewater plant gets green light from IDEM


February 17, 2010
It's a downhill run now for the town of Georgetown. The town has been planning and working toward building its own wastewater treatment plant for years, and the state just issued a permit to build on the land that was purchased for that purpose.

The construction permit, issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management last week, gives the town the green light to begin construction of the plant as soon as possible.

Preliminary work on the site, located on the west side of town, could begin this week, weather permitting, and would include rebuilding a crossing over the railroad tracks and construction of a road to the actual plant site.

"We can start anytime now," Billy Stewart, town council president, said. "It's going to be a while before we begin working on the plant itself. We have to improve access to the site first. We're going to be working on the railroad crossing first, then the road, and, if the weather cooperates, we'll have a groundbreaking ceremony in April or May and construction of the plant will actually begin.

"There's a few issues we'll have to deal with," he added. "We have three customers on the far east side of town that are now on a gravity feed to the sewer line, and we'll have to figure out a way to get them hooked in the new system. That could turn out to be rather costly, but we'll get it worked out as soon as possible."

Several homeowners in the area of the new site have expressed concerns about the plant's location and about how their real estate values will be affected by the plant. During the zoning change process, the residents appealed to the Floyd County Board of Zoning Appeals to reject the town's request for a zoning change. However, the town's attorney, D.A. Andrews, was able to convince the board that the site for the plant was ideal in that the plant could not be seen due to the lay of the land and buffer zones where trees would further isolate the site.

The board approved the request and paved the way for construction of the plant, which will only treat wastewater from the town and will not treat solid waste. The solids generated by the town now go to septic tanks which are pumped out into tanker trucks and disposed of. This process will continue, even after the new plant is up and running.

"The entire cost of the plant will be around $4.7 million," Stewart said. "Of course, we got the $3.5 million (federal) stimulus grant which will leave us owing about $1.2 million when the plant is completed. We've been saving some money, and we may get a low-interest loan for some of the costs. And we've sold the O'Brien property (the original proposed site for the plant) to Floyd County, so that will help. But at the end of the day, we'll still owe a little. And we'll probably look at applying for some other grants, so it's a little early to tell how everything will go."

Georgetown has already annexed the land, 70-plus acres, into the town by the landowner's request. Now that the IDEM permit to build, which has not been contested, has been secured, the town should have its own wastewater treatment plant by the end of the year.

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Barbara Shaw
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