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Compromise may solve  Hermits Lake sewer problem

Updated: May 14, 2013 11:51AM



CROWN POINT — For decades the Lake County Commissioners have wanted to stop running a sanitary sewer plant in Hermits Lake.

An agreement between the City of Crown Point and Lake County is getting close. They have signed a Memorandum of Agreement as of May 6 to work together to handle the sanitary sewage from the Hermits Lake area.

With the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Department of Natural Resources pushing for implementation of the mandate to separate storm and sanitary sewers to keep all waterways clean, local officials are moving to resolve the issue.

The approximately 280 homes in the Hermits Lake Service Area will not be annexed by the city. The individual homeowners will not be billed by the city.

Instead, Lake County will be billed by city for the amount of sewage that runs through the meter. The bills will also contain the city-required 25 percent over the rate paid by city residents. It will be up to the county to collect from the individual properties connected to their service area.

In addition to that monthly billing the county will be responsible for paying the city an upfront cost tap-in fee of $1,920 for each home being serviced by the city sewer plant. That comes to over a half million dollars.

Lake County remains responsible for all infrastructure, improvements and general maintenance necessary for the transportation of the wholesale wastewater within the service area.

Lake County shall pay for all infrastructure improvements necessary for the transfer of the wholesale wastewater to the point of connection, at 121st Avenue about 500 feet east of White Oak Avenue.

When the system that was built to serve that subdivision failed, the state told the county to take over the running and maintainance and upgrades of that plant.

The city wouldn’t take the sanitary sewage from the residents without them petitioning to be annexed into the city. That would be expensive since the city would have required the subdivision property owners to upgrade their infrastructure to meet city standards.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub has had the unglamorous task of supervision of the staff the county has assigned to running a failing sanitary plant.

In addition to the Hermits Lake agreement, the city and county also came to an understanding on how to handle the failing sanitary system currently in use in the Willowdale subdivision in unincorporated Lake County, just to the west of Timothy Ball School and north of Summit street and both south and east of White Hawk subdivision.

This will not be handled in the same way as Hermits Lake. The county will design, permit and finance a connection to the city’s sanitary sewer system. These new sanitary sewer pipes will connect to the city’s infrastructure on the northwest end of Willowdale through the public right-of-way.

All houses that connect to the city sewer system will become customers of the city sewer utility and will be billed directly by the city at the city rate plus 25 percent for wastewater treatment provided. In addition each home that connects shall pay a tap-in fee of $1,920 upfront cost.

If the city ever petitions to annex the Willowdale service area into the city the county has agreed not to object.



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