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Officials worried about water quality standard

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CARBON -- Carbon Town Council members expressed concern Tuesday saying the town just doesn't have enough money to make the water quality standard improvements needed.

Effective Jan. 1, 2009, the State of Indiana added two new criteria standards which requires a limit of discharge for ammonia and E.-coli levels.

Currently, Carbon's waste stabilization lagoons are in violation of the new standards.

Although this violation doesn't pose a threat to any citizens, the town is still responsible for solving the issue. The existing lagoons are not designed to treat ammonia.

During its monthly meeting, Commonwealth Engineers, Inc., Vice President Mark Sullivan updated council members concerning the progress of the wastewater study in progress and to discuss possible solutions to the ammonia level problem.

"To treat ammonia, there has to be sufficient ammonia-eating bacteria, which isn't able to exist in colder temperatures," Sullivan said. "There are three main concerns: Aeration, warm temperatures and long detention times."

Sullivan added the winter climate isn't warm enough around the lagoon ponds to treat these pollutants.

"The lagoon pond temperatures need to be upwards of 50 degrees and above," Sullivan said. "The current lagoons just can't achieve the level of ammonia the state is mandating."

In addition, those in attendance made suggestions concerning possible solutions including getting a larger lagoon, constructing a dome to cover the lagoons (which would need to be several acres) or switching to a mechanical means of treatment, similar to that of larger cities.

However, financially, all of these "solutions" are not feasible for Carbon to consider the amount of funds available.

"The cost to make these upgrades would be slightly less than $1 million," Sullivan explained. "Even if the treatment center was given free of cost to the town, the cost for operation and maintenance would be much too high for the town to afford."

But Sullivan and town officials say they are not giving up.

"We are still looking at options and ways to reduce the cost," Sullivan said.

Some town council members discussed requesting state officials revisit these new limit requirements and consider revising the law.

"We are trying to find a way to solve this without increasing residents' sewer bills," Sullivan said. "The study is winding down now and the report is about 95 percent complete."

Sullivan added he plans to bring the finished report to next month's town council meeting.

In other Carbon news:

* Brazil Door has agreed to refund the Town of Carbon all but $250 of the money the town paid the business. The town hired the business to install a back door on the town hall building after town attorney Eric Somheil sent a letter of complaint to the company. The door was not air tight and did not meet state fire code regulations,

* Council President Joann Rightsell thanked Pike Lumber for donating three picnic tables to Carbon Park,

* Council members announced they plan to present the budget during the Oct. 3 meeting, and plan to approve the budget during a special session Oct. 24, and

* President Rightsell discussed hosting a Halloween party for Carbon children around Halloween.

Town Council member Dennis Rightsell did not attend the September meeting.

The Carbon Town Council meets regularly the first Monday of each month.

The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3, at 7 p.m., in the Carbon Town Hall, 14678 N Locust St.

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