Brownstown gets sewer grant

All of the work Brownstown officials and the town’s grant writer put in to obtain funding for a sanitary sewer collection system improvement project has paid off.

On Friday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced Brownstown is one of 12 rural Hoosier communities receiving Wastewater Drinking Water Program grant funding.

Brownstown will receive $450,000 of the more than $6 million awarded to the 12 communities.

The town will have to come up with $300,000 in matching funds, which most likely will be done through a bond issue, said Brownstown Town Council president John Nolting.

The grant will allow work to begin on the Priority 1 sewer lines and manholes.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Scott Hunsucker, superintendent of Brownstown Wastewater Utility.

He worked with Shannon McLeod of Priority Project Resources of Greensburg to prepare the grant application.

“Considering where the rates are in town and the age of the system, we’ve got a lot of repairs to do in what we need to do first, and that’s what this is setting up to do,” Hunsucker said. “I’m going to fix the worst of the worst with this grant and our part of the match. I’m just glad we got it because I don’t know how we could have done it all, all of the (Priority) 1s and all of the 2s on our own.”

Hunsucker said the work will be bid out near the end of September or first of October so sliplining of the sewers and manholes can begin by the end of the year.

Nolting said the council has had sewer improvements on its radar for the past couple of years.

“We’ve had a number of people that were having sewer issues in town and decided it’s time to do something about this,” he said. “We’re trying to be proactive here rather than being reactive. In other words, we want to do something before we start having sewers collapsing on us and really having major issues.”

Nolting said a lot of credit goes to Hunsucker and McLeod for helping the town receive the grant.

“I’m elated that we got this,” he said. “This is going to let us get going on this project and get started, especially our Priority 1s and Priority 2s that we looked at. This is the first step to get going.”

Applications for the first round of the federal Community Development Block Grant Program were due to OCRA in June, with 16 Indiana communities receiving funds.

Along with the 12 communities receiving Wastewater Drinking Water Program grant funding, $1.5 million was awarded to three communities from the Stormwater Improvements Program, and $400,000 went to one community under the Public Facilities Program.

The state distributes CDBG funds to rural communities in an effort to ensure health and safety and improve the quality of life for citizens.

“I applaud the efforts of the 16 communities who applied for and are receiving grant funding to support efforts to ensure a solid infrastructure for those who work, live and play in their cities and towns,” Holcomb said. “It is critical for the well-being of our state to have quality drinking water, stormwater systems and public facilities in order for communities to thrive.”

The goals of the Wastewater Drinking Water Program are to protect the health and environment, reduce utility rates for low- to moderate-income communities and improve rural infrastructure to enable long-term economic growth. Eligible projects include many aspects of wastewater improvements and drinking water system improvements.

Hunsucker said the sliplining work that will be performed in Brownstown is not very disruptive to residents, as homes, yards or streets aren’t torn up.

Specialized sliplining equipment is used to place a resin liner through a manhole. The liner is pulled through with steam or hot water and expands and conforms to existing pipe, and it forms up like PVC pipe.

To complete that work, the outside temperature has to be above freezing, Hunsucker said.

In applying for the grant, a lot of upfront work was required.

First, the town hired Wessler Engineering of Indianapolis to do the cleaning and video inspections of the sanitary sewer system. That included smoke testing of the sewer lines, manhole inspections and pole cam, where they look 150 to 200 feet up into each manhole.

Wastewater utility workers also kept track of the cleaning they performed. Based on those logs and Wessler Engineering’s data, they came up with the Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3 sewer lines.

Hunsucker then sent out more than 500 letters to town residents seeking their comments. Those who described issues in a particular area of town matched up with the problem areas identified by the wastewater utility.

The town’s sanitary sewer system was installed in the 1950s. A lot of those sewer lines have been infiltrated with tree roots or are just old and breaking down, McLeod said.

“Not only are you getting the sewer water in there, but you are getting surface water, and it’s getting into pipes and going down to the (wastewater treatment) plant and wreaking havoc,” she said.

“We’ve got to get these sewer lines and the manholes where water is getting in in better condition so that we can limit the amount of water that’s going down to the plant so that your plant’s life — the mechanics and all — lives a little longer,” she said.

Hunsucker said the plant is designed to handle 670,000 gallons of normal flow and averages 450,000. But during big rain events, more than 2 million gallons flow through.

“That’s happening more frequently than not, and that’s wearing down your pumps and your lift stations, and it’s wearing down everything out there at the plant,” McLeod said. “It’s making it hard for (Hunsucker) to control the dilution of what’s going into the streams. It could potentially get you in trouble with IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management).”

After the first phase of the work is completed, Hunsucker said he will reevaluate the system’s flow and look into making updates and upgrades to the town’s two lift stations.

Since the town received a grant for the first phase, McLeod said the second phase would not be eligible for grant funding from OCRA until seven years transpires. That could be bonded, and the town could seek grants from other sources.

At a glance

Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced Friday more than $7 million in federal grant funding for three programs was awarded to rural Hoosier communities.

Wastewater Drinking Water Program

Community;Award amount

Boswell;$600,000

Brownstown;$450,000

Clay City;$550,000

Clinton;$450,000

Cromwell;$650,000

English;$529,000

Jennings County;$400,000

Montezuma;$600,000

New Market;$450,000

Ridgeville;$450,000

Roann;$400,000

Vermillion County;$550,000

Stormwater Improvements Program

Community;Award amount

Fort Branch;$500,000

New Ross;$500,000

Versailles;$500,000

Public Facilities Funding

Community;Award amount

Jasper;$400,000

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.