TOP STORY OF THE DAY - Brazil City applies for SRF

Monday, April 1, 2024
HAYLEY COOPER PHOTO - The Board of Public Works and Safety took a vital step towards progression last Wednesday.

Brazil City’s feat of replacing the remaining U.S. raw water line and wells might come to fruition soon, with an application being sent to the State Revolving Fund.

About a year and a half ago, the city replaced nearly half a mile of the 18-inch cast-iron raw water line with high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, during an INDOT project. This project will replace the remaining four and a half miles.

“If for some reason, this existing cast iron pipe fails, you’re out of water,” said Tony Akles from Strand Associates.

A public hearing was held regarding the preliminary engineering report to obtain assistance for Indiana’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Loan Program.

“We looked at directional drilling where we could, but there’s going to be a lot of open cut areas.”

In addition, Akles says adding a new well is possible as one of the current wells has lost capacity over the years.

“The wells are getting older,” explained Akles. The hope is to get a new well and eventually take one of the older wells offline.

A few homes are hooked to the raw water line and are receiving untreated water. Akles says part of the project is to set them up with a finished water main, as IDEM has advised that they cannot continue the project, providing customers with raw water.

The project was referred to as “grandfathered in” as raw water is not provided to customers. Akles says the water is safe to drink. However, there is concern over high manganese and iron, which are naturally occurring chemicals in groundwater but could be hazardous in high amounts.

“This was before all of our time; someone allowed them to hook onto the raw water main, probably doing a nice deed, but IDEM doesn’t like people to be on untreated water,” said Akles.

The residents are aware they are receiving untreated water.

The estimated price for the project is over $12.6 million. It was noted that the cost would be around seven million dollars if this project was done pre-COVID.

As Mayor Brian Wyndham explained, the 70/80-year-old pipe has failed before, “We’ve had failures in it before, and everybody knows because nobody has any water. It’s just been temporary to patch it.”

The city hopes to receive SRF grants or an SRF loan if not awarded. Kristy Jerrell of Jerrell Consulting and Grant Administration Services is working on an OCRA grant, and the city’s financial consultant, Baker Tilly, is working to offset the costly but vital project.

“When you think of an iron pipe, you think it’s indestructible. Although it’s cast iron, it’s really very fragile. Vibration can split it. If you kick on the pumps at the same time, you’ll split it. It has no tolerance or give,” said Wyndham.

Akles says they will know something in the summer when SRF releases its priority list, which ranks projects to be funded. An estimated time frame for construction would be this time next year.

“This is our main artery, and to ignore that it’s getting old and we’ve been having trouble with it would be remiss. I think this is something we’re looking at that’s very proactive and will affect generations beyond us,” said Wyndham.

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