The sewer system for the Shipshewana Lake area could be up and running as early as the end of September, based on a construction schedule provided by the contractor to the LaGrange County Regional Utility District.
The district board was told by project engineer Steve Henschen Wednesday night that the contractor, Niblock Construction, is expecting to begin drilling the main line pipes by the first week of May. The contractor is expected to work from south to north on the project, the board was told, but that could change.
Currently, crews are working in the area to locate utilities and existing septic systems in preparation for the drilling. The contractor’s schedule calls for approximately five months of putting pipe into the ground.
A separate crew is expected to begin work around the first week of June to install grinder pumps and make the connections.
Niblock plans to work on fixing surfaces, roads, etc., in September. The system could be turned over to the district for operation as early as the end of that month.
The contract calls for substantial completion by Nov. 14.
With construction starting in May, customers in the service area will begin seeing half-rate billing begin at $34 per month throughout the construction. Full billing of $68 for a single-family residence will start once the system is operating.
The board was told that there were 25 easements not yet signed for the project. The district’s legal counsel, John Gastineau, told the board that there is usually a flurry of easements signed when construction starts, and that the number of easements still unsigned would not stop the project from going forward.
The district passed an ordinance previously that states that the project would bypass any property that does not have a signed easement with the district and that it would be up to the property owner to pay for the installation and grinder pump when they are required to connect to the system.
Gastineau also clarified that a rumor there would be a fine for not connecting was not true. “At no time has the district said it will fine anybody for not connecting in any amount,” he stated Wednesday. “There is no statute and no ordinance that will allow us to do that.”
The board was informed that there were seven properties that could possibly be exempt from the system based on new legislation from the state. However, the board heard that the LaGrange County Health Board, which the state has directed will decide if a septic system can be certified, plans to use the current county ordinance in deciding whether or not it would certify the systems.
The board was told that the county ordinance says that there would be no exemptions if a property is within 500 feet of a sewer line.
Gastineau noted that certification is one of the items required by the state law and that properties that do not receive the certificate from the county would not qualify for the exemption.
In other business:
Board President Mike Sutter noted that combined cost savings and cost avoidances between the operations and administration managers has saved the district $25,000.
The board has scheduled a work session for May 1 at 4 p.m. to look at changes that will need to be made due to legislation passed in 2012.