City to replace water clarifier

Officials say issues due to faulty materials

Construction of a new $3 million water clarifier at Seymour’s Water Pollution Control Facility is underway after the system “imploded” in April 2016.

Sewer utility director Randy Hamilton said a report from a forensic engineer hired by the city’s insurance provider stated the problems were due to faulty materials and issues with how the clarifier was constructed.

The city is taking initial steps to sue those responsible for the equipment’s design and construction in order to recoup the costs of the investigation and replacing the tank, which removes solid particles from wastewater.

“In 41 years of working in sewer departments, I have never seen an issue like this in terms of how this clarifier imploded,” Hamilton said.

The city’s sewer plant has three clarifiers used in the process to “clean” wastewater that has been treated before it’s discharged into the East Fork White River.

All three clarifiers were put in service in 2004 as part of a $17 million project to increase the treatment plant’s capacity from 4.3 million gallons to 8.7 million per day.

Such equipment should last at least 50 years, Hamilton said.

The other two clarifiers have not shown any similar problems.

“But there is still concern that they could, so we are keeping a close eye on them,” he said. “They are at a higher elevation, so I don’t know if that makes a difference.”

In November 2016, the city made an emergency resolution to replace the clarifier and issue bonds to pay for the work. Now, the city is formalizing that funding through an ordinance.

Earlier this month, the board of public works and safety approved the ordinance to issue up to $3 million in sewer works bonds, which will be paid back using sewer utility funds. City council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance at 7 p.m. tonight.

Originally, it was expected to take about 18 months to complete the new clarifier, but with a mild winter, contractors are ahead of schedule, Hamilton said.

“They are pouring the concrete walls this week, and I’m anticipating the whole thing will be finished in October,” he said.

Because there’s no “quick fix,” Hamilton said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is not fining the city for violating its permits.

“They know we are working on it and that we have a plan in place to handle the excess overflow,” he said.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.