Huntertown wastewater treatment plant permit approved

HUNTERTOWN, Ind. (WANE)  The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has approved a permit that would allow Huntertown to build its own wastewater treatment plant.

The move would allow the town to end its reliance on the City of Fort Wayne for that service.

Huntertown officials have their eyes on a 26-acre site, located inside the 2200 block of Hathaway Road, which would house the new wastewater treatment plant.

An email news release was sent out by Huntertown officials early Thursday afternoon with news of the permit approval.  The news release does not mention Fort Wayne by name, but it’s clear which municipality is being referenced in a quote contained in it:

In an era where municipalities are struggling to meet State and Federal mandates to upgrade legacy facilities and eliminate sewer overflows for the benefit of the environment, Huntertown has the opportunity to responsibly treat its wastewater and to discontinue sending its wastewater into a system which periodically emits raw sewage into our local rivers. This benefits our citizens and the environment. “It is very exciting to be a part of a cutting edge project which benefits the future of our Town and is just good stewardship of our resources for our children and grandchildren – creating better and cleaner waterways.” said Pat Freck, President of the Huntertown Council.

According to an IDEM spokesperson, the decision to approve the permit can be appealed during an 18-day time frame.  The spokesperson added that technically, Huntertown can begin constructing its treatment plant right away, but highly recommended that it did not.  The two reasons given were to allow for the appeal window to pass, and to make sure other pending permits are still approved.

According to Andrew Conner, President of the Huntertown Utility Service Board IDEM’s decision for Huntertown’s discharge permit could be decided within the next two months.

Conner added that Huntertown’s request to construct a wastewater treatment plant was denied approximately 18 months ago.  “We are basically building an extremely clean and efficient wastewater plant, which is why I think they approved it this time,” he told NewsChannel 15.

NewsChannel 15 has contacted the City of Fort Wayne for reaction to the permit approval.  A City Utilities spokesperson issued the following:

The town received a construction permit but still does not have a discharge permit nor funding for the project. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management rejected Huntertown’s first request for a sewage plant permit, and a final decision on the second request to discharge into the vulnerable Eel River is still months away.

Our track record has shown time and time again that City Utilities is a strong partner with communities throughout the area. We have played a vital role by providing excellent service and assisting area towns with growth, including Huntertown which was the fastest growing town in northeast Indiana while being served by City Utilities.  Our partnership includes planning and building infrastructure to help them meet the needs of tomorrow.  We have always been open and ready to talk with Huntertown about a solution to deliver our quality sewer services at an affordable price that will provide Huntertown with the additional capacity they need for growth.

Most developers chose Fort Wayne because of quality service, lower rates and the ability to serve their multi-million dollar housing developments today, as opposed to several years down the road.

This is about economic development. Developers are ready to build and make an investment in Allen County that will help the economy and create jobs. They should not be forced to wait for several years on a risky, unnecessary and expensive sewer operation in Huntertown.

Conner said Huntertown’s officials hoped to begin construction on the new plant in the first half of 2015.  He added that the town already applied for State Revolving Funds, a state loan that is issued with very low to no interest rates.  Huntertown is in line to possibly receive those within the next two years.

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