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Lake Station’s new water treatment plant nearly complete

Plans call for new 5300-square-foot water treatment plant Lake Statigo on-line April. The plant facade is designed complement surrounding homes

Plans call for the new, 5,300-square-foot water treatment plant in Lake Station to go on-line in April. The plant facade is designed to complement surrounding homes and properties. | Michael Gonzalez/For the Post-Tribune

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Updated: April 4, 2014 6:12AM



LAKE STATION — Most Lake Station residents cannot drink water directly from their taps without some boiling or filtering, but a new, nearly $11 million water treatment plant on Union St. should change that within two months.

Located on the south end of Union Street, on the city’s east end, the new plant is expected to go online in April, finally delivering clean water throughout the city and possibly generating extra revenue.

The 5,300-square-foot building has a sand-colored facade with decorative glass block It will pump a million gallons of water a day to 3,600 households and businesses, said one official with American StructurePoint, the designer and construction management company.

The plant has enough capacity to pump an extra half-million gallons a day that can be sold to other communities for additional revenue or to west side citizens who now get service from Indiana-American Water through the New Chicago water department, said Mayor Keith Soderquist.

“(Indiana-American) rates are higher than ours, even with the new plant,” he added.

For more than 60 years, most of Lake Station has struggled with poor quality water flowing from four aquifers and an antiquated water treatment facility. Residents have complained about brown water or a film coating their morning coffees.

Still, the project was not a popular issue for Soderquist or the City Council. The main funding source was an $11 million low-interest loan from the Indiana State Revolving Loan Fund, and it will be paid off with increased water rates.

Soderquist and the council did not announce the rate increases until two months after their successful 2012 re-elections, and they did so before standing-room only crowds. Water rates, which had not risen in seven years, jumped from $2.56 per thousand gallons to $3.54.

According to an employee with Lake Station’s water department, residents now pay $18.90 per thousand gallons. Another rate increase is coming in April.

By comparison, an employee with neighboring New Chicago’s water department said residents there pay $16.60 per thousand gallons.

Soderquist said he also considered selling the city’s water system to Indiana-American Water at one point, handing the private company responsibility for rate increases — and the resulting headaches.

As workers sawed, hammered and installed finishing touches on the facility, American StructurePoint representative Don Grimstad pointed out a number of features on a recent tour.

Two massive, conical tanks soften the water, a service not provided by all water departments, and withdraw calcium particles that glom onto sand. The combined particles can be reused in landscaping projects throughout the city.

The system also recycles backwash, or water used to clean out two massive filters jutting out of the rear of the plant, rather than dumping it in sewers, and it will draw from four massive wells, with one back-up well available.

The plan also features four high-speed pumps, operating on energy-saving variable frequency controllers and timer-controlled LED lighting.

Building a water treatment plant is expensive but increasingly necessary, Grimstad said.

“It does take a commitment from politicians and people running the city to invest in this to solve current problems and for future uses,” he said. “There’s quite a bit of forward thinking in this.”



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