RDC Meeting – Mar 7, 2019 Sewers, Septics, Economic Impacts

Notes 🙂 No formal agenda – open format. Topics included expanding Economic Development Areas (EDAs) in Jackson and Hamblen townships, purchasing/selling properties, affordable housing options, clean up of blighted properties, the importance of understanding culture when considering changes,  the history of dumping in rural areas to include Brown County, regional sewer districts (RSDs), and Helmsburg Revitalization.

Jim Kemp (President of the Redevelopment Commission (RDC) mentioned that he is taking the online certification courses required for installing Presbys and is reviewing the county required certifications tests.  His motive is to learn more about the process and requirements.

Brown County Matters – Facebook Post

On the topic of Helmsburg Revitalization, Barnes and Thornburg identified new requirements for buying and selling properties (?) that were not included in the initial  Economic Development Area (EDA) related resolutions and forms.

Helmsburg Revitalization and Waste Water Treatment Strategies

  • Jim Kemp suggested that one RSD for the county may/could be more efficient.  He had also talked with the Helmsburg RSD Board member who stated that Helmsburg did not want to assume any debt to accommodate Bean Blossom customers.
    • The Bean Blossom to Helmsburg option has been perceived as being among the better options as opposed to expanding the Bean Blossom Project to include other areas – Woodland Lake, Freeman Ridge, Little Fox Lake.
  • RSD members are appointed by either the council and/or commissioners. I could not find any information on the process and appointments on the county website.
  • Unless there is significant development around Helmsburg that leads to more customers, how does their $90.00 rate not continue to increase?  Gnaw Bone was helped out by the Forest Hills apartments that reduced rates to around $50.00 (?)
  • Along with the Bean Blossom sewer project, is the window open for funding from the state?   Would Helmsburg RSD  support any changes needed to support Bean Blossom (to include new debt) “IF” the costs to Helmsburg’s current customers would not be increased and may even lead to reduced rates?
  • If no significant development is expected in Helmsburg, then as mentioned at the meeting, a plan could include Helmsburg customers beings served by the BCRSD and (phase out the Helmsburg RSD?).   This would very likely lead to decreases in the monthly rate.
  • “Now” may be a good time to make any needed updates to the Helmsburg Economic Plan to include documenting the decisions regarding the future of the Helmsburg RSD.

New Economic Opportunities – Septic System Inspection and Installations

Not specifically addressed in the meeting but current efforts by the Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) and the Health Department “may be” leading to creating a significant financial opportunity for individuals that are interested in septic system inspections and installations. This also results in economic impacts on residents.

The Market: Data provided by the BCRSD identified that there are approximately 8,400 households in Brown County, and only about 700, or 8 percent, have sewer access. Out of the approximate 7,700 residences with septic systems, about 4,000 of those systems were installed before the state code was developed. As a result, many of them might not be in compliance with current codes.

The BCRSD in their letter to potential customers identified an “estimated average” useful life of a septic system at 25 years. (Source: Purdue extension service. I have not been able to find the analysis that provides the supporting detail for the “average.”)

  • This 25-year estimated average is contradicted by Presby Environmental and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
    • Presby Environmental: If the system is designed, installed and maintained properly, there is no limit to the life expectancy of Enviro-Septic® Technology. In the event that the System malfunctions due to abuse, AES or Enviro-Septic® may be rejuvenated in as little as 72 hours, eliminating the need for a replacement.
    • EPA. Conventional septic systems are designed to operate indefinitely if properly maintained.  EPA also identifies an assumption that most household systems are not well-maintained thus estimating the functional life of septic systems at 20 years or less. EPA Septic Systems (Onsite/Decentralized Systems)

The Health Department is updating its files regarding septic system records. They are identifying that in many cases, there are no records, records are incomplete and some records indicate that systems are not meeting current codes. More info on the status of septic system records – pages 3-5:  20190225 BCRSD Council Presentation Dec 17. 2018

The Health Department is also in the process of developing an update to the Septic System Ordinance.  The prior two versions have indicated increased requirements for inspectors and installers.  An economic impact study of the cost of any new changes on residents should be included with any proposed revision.

The unknown (to me) at this time is if the Health Department can require an update of records and/or inspections of existing systems.

“If” new ordinances and/or enforcement of existing septic system related laws and ordinances can identify a significant number of systems requiring updated records, inspections, repairs, and replacements, can the county contract for volume discounts? Financial support would be another issue.

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