Regional Sewer Board – Bean Blossom Sewer Project – For the Record

Everyone wants a safe and healthy environment. We deserve transparency and facts and not “spin” when it comes to proposing a change.  Due diligence requires that you identify the process that will be used to identify the problem and solutions  and be “radically transparent.”  This is referred to as good government.  As you work through the process, provide monthly updates to the citizenry,  listen and address concerns and questions.

Example Proposed County Decision-Making Process.

Decision Makers

  •  2018 Brown County Regional Sewer District Board members:  Judy Swift Powdrill, (President)* Phil LeBlanc, Debbie Larsh, Mike Leggins, Clint Studabaker.
    • *Ms. Powdrill resigned Dec 11, 2018.

2018 Elected officials that appointed Board Members:

  • Commissioners: Dave Anderson, Diana Biddle, Jerry Pittman.
  • 2018 County Council Members who appoint Board members and also approved a $270K budget for the board: Keith Baker (President) David Critser, John Price, Glenda Stogsdill, Debbie Guffey,  Art Knight, Darren Byrd.
  • 2019 – Bill Hamilton replaces Guffey and Dave Redding replaces Baker.
  • Redevelopment Commission (RDC) – President Jim Kemp
  • Local Republican Party Chairman – Mark Bowman.

Funding Source: Indiana Finance Authority.  State Revolving Fund.  The State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan Programs provide low-interest loans to Indiana communities for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. The Program’s mission is to provide eligible entities with the lowest interest rates possible on the financing of such projects while protecting public health and the environment. SRF also funds non-point source projects that are tied to a wastewater loan.

Regional District Users Guide For Citizens And Governments

  • Citizens’ Frequently Asked Questions.
    • What if my septic system works fine or if I want to keep my private well and not hook up to the system?  A regional district has the authority to require or waive sewer connection. These decisions are made locally by the regional district board and are on a case-by-case basis. However if everyone in the service area connects at the same time, it can help control the cost of the project.
TIMELINE

Feb 6, 2019. BCD.  Residents question sewer board about project basics, Suzannah Couch

  •  Almost every seat was taken and more Bean Blossom residents stood along the walls to hear what the Brown County Regional Sewer District was planning for their area.

Jan 24, 2019. Brown County Matters – Facebook:  Council Meeting – Notes from the discussion on Sewers and Septics

  • UPDATE: Jan 24 Council Meeting – Septic and Sewer Issue. The Regional Sewer District (RSD) Board did not follow the process needed to place their funding request on the council calendar. They will formally be making their request for approximately $200,000 at February’s council meeting.

Jan 22, 2019. BCD. Sewer project spending, ‘proof of need’ reviewed, by Sara Clifford.

Jan 22, 2019. BCD. GUEST OPINION: Sewers and septic systems: What’s the problem?

” … two key questions as an integral part of a countywide strategy: To what extent should residences located near a wastewater treatment facility be required to hook up to sewers? To what extent should all residences — 90 percent of which utilize septic systems — be required to have their septic systems inspected on a recurring basis?

BCD – Brown County Democrat’ See also “Additional Information” at the bottom of the post.  Includes more information on the technology.

Jan 17, 2019. Facebook Posts – Brown County Matters – Forced connections – Indianapolis example.

Jan 12, 2019. Facebook Posts – Brown County Matters.  Key Topics:

Jan 11, 2019. Facebook Post – Brown County MattersAppreciate the information, responses, and feedback provided regarding the proposed changes regarding Sewers and Septic Systems. This issue affects almost EVERY property owner and residence in the county. 

  • Of the 240 potential customers, no information has been collected to identify how many support sewers, how many will want waivers (if granted by the Sewer Board), how many will want compensation for granting easements, how many will need financial aid, how many may have failed systems, and how many may need perimeter drains (if they do not have the 24 inches between the water table and the field). 
  • The Trailer Park, Bill Monroe and Brownies (commercial property owners) have all expressed support. The current Sewer Board President – Mike Leggins, who has rental units with inadequate septics has also expressed support. Commissioner Biddle whose family owns property in the area has also expressed support. The 30 or so letters of support included in the application submitted in June 2018 were from “1998.” 
  • And, $70,000 of the 270K budgeted has been spent on designs and consulting services for a new plant. 
  •  We are told that our soils are bad for septics yet septics are approved after the required soil testing is conducted. We are also told that useful life of a septic is “estimated” to be an “average” of 25 years but no reference to scientifically based studies that validate this allegation. The inference that failed septic systems (no documentation on file) is a leading cause of the high e.coli in streams and creeks (2006 samples) adds to the drama but there is no evidence to back up this inference. Further, no idea on where the major source of the e.coli may be originating. And oh by the way, if the e.coli is due to animal contamination, what then? 
  • Suggestion? Identify the scope and extent of the problem in the county before spending any more money on “solutions.”

Jan 10, 2019. Guest Opinion column submitted to the Brown County Democrat. Sewers and Septic Systems – What Is the Problem? (Target publication Jan 21,2019)

Jan 8, 2019. RSD Board Meeting.  This and future meetings will be held at the Fruitdale VFD.  No recorder was available but a recorder will be obtained to record future meetings.

Jan 3, 2019Facebook Post – Brown County Matters.

  • For Residents and Property Owners. Among two of the most important public meetings this year: (1) The Jan 8 meeting of the Regional Sewer Board that will be meeting at 6:00 p.m. at the Fruitdale Fire Department and (2) County Council meeting (date and time not yet on the government calendar). Council will be voting on funding for the Sewer Board.
  • Questions that need to addressed: To what extent should residences located near a current or proposed wastewater treatment facility be required to hook-up to sewers? To what extent should all residences – 90% of which utilize septic systems, be required to have their septic systems inspected on a reoccurring basis?
  • And, “if” it is “proven” that there are environmental issues linked to septic systems, animals, agricultural runoffs, what could be the impact on the county’s reputation/image and property values in the near, mid, and long-term?

Dec 31, 2018. BCDTop 10 stories of 2018Number 5. Waste disposal talks continue

Dec 21, 2018Facebook Post at Brown County MattersHonest questions, honest replies.

  • Includes the following questions to representatives of the council, Sewer Board and RDC.  1) Does a regional sewer board have the power by itself, to force people on sewers?; (2) Can the RSD take action that will force inspections of septic systems with outdated records – especially ones installed before 1977? (approximately 4,000 homes); (3) Can the RSD with IDEMs support, take over the Helmsburg Sewer District?; (4) Do any of the Sewer Districts (Nashville, Gnaw Bone, Helmsburg), have the power to force people on sewers or pay for services not rendered?; (5) Other than appointments, do the commissioners and council have any authority over the RSD or is the governing authority IDEM? If IDEM, why aren’t they providing the funding for the RSD?; (6) What funding is available to assist people to meet RSD requirements for sewer hook-ups, septic inspections, and possibly septic repairs/replacement?
  • Jan 8, 2018, Meeting Announcement – Brown County Regional Sewer District.

Dec 19, 2018Facebook Post at Brown County Matters. My understanding is that easements on private property will be needed for Brown County Regional Sewer. Everyone should charge the sewer district for the right to cross their land.

Dec 18, 2018.  Example – The power of regional sewer districts in Indiana – Twin Lakes Regional Sewer District, Monticello, IN.

Dec 17, 2018. County Council.  Facebook Post at Brown County Matters. Presentation by Regional Sewer Board Member Clint Studabaker.  Studabaker provided a presentation to the council that covered water quality, review of septic system records, a septic ordinance update, and the status on the proposed Bean Blossom Treatment Plant. The FACTS do not support a case for change.

Dec 15, 2018Facebook Post – Brown Couty Matters PROCESS vs PROJECT  – $7.3+ million Bean Blossom Sewer Project. A comment I often hear regarding the content of my guest columns or Letters in the Democrat is that it is often perceived that I am “against” a respective project (Maple Leaf, Bean Blossom Sewers, Justice Center, et.al.). cont ….

Dec 13, 2018. Facebook Post – Brown Couty Matters Minutes from the RDC meeting that included further discussions on the Bean Blossom Sewer Project.

Dec 11, 2018RSB Meeting Notes – Facebook Post.  The President of the Board – Judy  Swift Powdrill resigned from the board. Mike Leggins was elected the new president.  At their last meeting, Ms. Powdrill recommended the project be delayed until there was a validated need and want.  The previous President of the Board, Evan Werling, also resigned from the RSB stating that there were no facts to support the need for the project.

Dec 6, 2018BCDWaste disposal ‘first and foremost’ in development decisions by Sara Clifford – Every flush at the Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park costs Ben and Rex Voils about 20 cents. As they evaluate their plans for the landmark...

Dec 5, 2018, RSB Meeting Notes – Facebook Post – Key Point

  • The President of the Board (Judy Swift Powdrill) acknowledged citizen concerns with this project. She made a motion that they put the project on hold to gather the data needed to validate proof of need and want. Despite that there are no facts to justify the need, the board voted unanimously to go forward with the project. (at a cost to taxpayers of $7.3 million). The previous RSB President – Evan Werling also concluded that they could not identify a need.
  • Audio Recording of the Meeting
  • Comments from Paul Navarro

Dec 4, 2018. BCD  Waste disposal ‘first and foremost’ in development decisions, by Sara Clifford.  The Brown County Regional Sewer District is in the process of applying for a combination of grants and loans to build a sewer system in the Bean Blossom area which would replace more than 200 individual home and business septic systems. It’s a project that’s been in the works in some form or another for 20 years. …   

Nov 27, 2018BCD, GUEST OPINION: Brown County soils as they relate to a septic system 

  • A soil test is required before a septic system drain field site is approved to determine the soil’s ability to accept wastewater. 
  • A drain field can have a long and successful life (usually about 25 years) — if it is taken care of.
  • Regarding indicators of a failed systemWhen the soil system slows down or stops breaking down the waste, the soil can become clogged, and if the “out of balance” is allowed to continue, the septic system fails. The soil can no longer accept the wastewater, the drain field starts to flood, odor starts to occur and the wastewater backs up into the tank. You then have a septic system failure.

Nov 16, 2017. Letter to Residents – Posted at Brown County Matters. Does not identify that there are any failed septic systems in the area to be served.  

  • In their letter to residents, their justification included a need based on the “age” of a system and using an “opinion” by Purdue Extension Service that “suggests “an ” average” lifespan of a maintained system is 25 years. An effective and maintained system could last longer than 25 years. AND it’s very likely that this could be proven by working systems in the county that are older than 25 years. The letter also draws the conclusion that $65.00 to $85.00 a month forever (a price that will rise over time) is more cost-effective than a septic system. Interesting math.

   

Nov 6, 2018. BCD Is a regional sewer partnership possible? By At a couple public meetings this fall, Brown County Redevelopment Commission President Jim Kemp suggested another idea: rolling the Gnaw Bone and Helmsburg regional sewer districts into the Brown County Regional Sewage District.

Nov 6, 2018. BCD  Groups gathering data for Bean Blossom sewer project Location in Bean Blossom not identified.  A decision on where the plant will go will probably need to be made by this spring, he said. In the meantime, the board, its hired engineer and other parties are still working on other aspects of the sewer plan so it can be submitted for funding to state and federal agencies. Part of that work is gathering data on why and where sewers are needed.

Oct  9, 2018  RSD Meeting.  Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts  

Sept 21, 2018. BCD  GUEST OPINION: How the Brown County Regional Sewer District came to be Editor’s note: This guest column was written with input from Brown County Regional Sewer District Board members Judy Swift Powdrill, Phil LeBlanc, Debbie Larsh, Mike Leggins and Clint Studabaker. Studabaker submitted it for publication.

  • History and an anecdotal case for change.

June 27, 2018.  Town, sewer district come to agreement on ‘buffer zone

  • Anyone who doesn’t currently have sewer service and owns property within a certain radius of Nashville will be able to petition the town to get sewer service if they want it.
  • That doesn’t necessarily mean that the town will be able to serve them; however, the town will have that legal option — something it hasn’t had for five years.

June 6, 2018. Preliminary Engineering Report (PER). Received copy (thumb drive) from the RSB President on June 6, 2018.

June 20, 2018Regional Sewer District One Step Closer To Offering Service By BROCK TURNER .

Some residents say they’ve lost trust in the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board. The board Tuesday night allocated $270,000 for an environmental study the State of Indiana requires for …

May 30, 2018.  Federal assistance for new wastewater treatment plant to be requested by B.C. Regional Sewer District NOTICE OF INTENT TO FILE APPLICATION

  • The Brown County Regional Sewer District intends to file an application for federal assistance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Rural Utilities Service.  The project includes construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. Any comments regarding this application should be submitted to the Brown County Regional Sewer District, PO Box 1881, Nashville, IN, 47448

May 9, 2017. BCD  Resigning sewer board volunteers claim project obstruction,  Sara Clifford – Three of the five members of the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board have resigned amid allegations that the Brown County Health Department has been derailing the Bean Blossom sewer project and disparaging the current sewer board along the way.

April 11, 2017Sewer district reviewing options for waste disposal

  • Four representatives of state funding and assistance agencies attended a special meeting Monday morning, April 3 about financing for the project. So did about 15 members of the public. … But after asking for an update on what the project is, Jim McGoff from the Indiana Finance Authority said Brown County isn’t ready for the financing step.
  • “At this point in time it sounds like the project has not been finally defined from a standalone plant versus other regional options, being either to Nashville or to another neighboring utility,” McGoff said.

March 14, 2017Septic system add-on discussed at sewer meeting

Feb 21, 2017.  Report: Cheaper to build wastewater plant in Bean Blossom

  • Evan Werling, the sewer board’s president, told the audience that the alternative option — piping the wastewater to Nashville’s treatment plant on the western edge of town — would cost about $800,000 more than building a stand-alone plant.
  • At the Feb. 7 meeting, Werling said he did not consider the town’s proposal an attempt to negotiate. Wanda Jones, the lawyer for the sewer board, said she did not consider it in the board’s best interest to sign it. 
  • This is not the first time the sewer effort has come this far.  Perry said the USDA rejected a prior application for grant money by what was known then as the Bean Blossom Regional Sewer District because the cost per sewer customer would have been too high.

Jan 25, 2017New group steps in on sewer project

  • The Brown County Redevelopment Commission has agreed to take a direct role in attempts to bring a sewer system to the Bean Blossom area.
  • However, in a Jan. 9 interview, Werling said that without proof of environmental threats, and in light of rumors that most residents of Woodland Lake do not want the sewer, he will not allow the board — comprised of five members of equal voting power — to implement the sewer. … “Ethically and morally, I won’t do that to someone else,” he said.
  • If the project is successful, it would serve as a concrete example of Brown County’s ability to complete a multi-million-dollar, multi-year project, Redding said.    would be a great confidence builder. It would be something that we would point to for the next big project that we engage in,” he said.

Dec 14, 2016  Town, sewer district continue contract negotiations

  • At the Dec. 6 meeting of the sewer district, Werling said the contract was not the response he had anticipated. 
  • “We got this huge, massive, eight-page contract with exhibits,” he said. “Not only was it approved by the town, it was also signed and notarized, waiting for my signature — a contract that we’ve never seen before.”
  • There are things in there that, if we discussed them, there’d be some pretty angry people in the room. I can tell you, those things are not going to fly,” he said.
  • In addition, under the contract, anyone connecting to the district’s system within three miles of Nashville would have to sign away the ability to protest future annexation by the town.

August 24, 2016.  Sewer board meets with affected residents

  • Ladd estimated a $65 monthly charge. That’s the best-case scenario.
  • If the grants the board is expecting didn’t pan out, the monthly cost would be more like $225.
  • The board said it would not pursue the project if monthly rates reached that high.
  • This is the second time the board has reached the grant proposal stage.
  • Last time, the plan was halted because of not having enough customers, said Vicki Perry, state director of the Indiana Rural Community Assistance Program.

July 27, 2016.  Bean Blossom sewer question continues (Includes list of properties)

  • About 200 Bean Blossom and Woodland Lake property owners may receive a letter from the Brown County Regional Sewer District before the end of the month.
  • It will invite them to a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 2 to learn about a proposed route for a new sewer system and how it will affect them, said Evan Werling, president of the district board.
  • The letters are the latest step in a nearly two-decade effort to bring sewer service to the area.

Additional Information

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