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REPUBLISHED: Brown County Water Utility plans $9.3M in projects
Updated on: 07.29.14

Editor's note: This story was published on page A1 of the May 28 Brown County Democrat. It is being posted online now to help customers understand what plans the private, countywide water utility has for correcting its problems.

By KEVIN LILLY
klilly@bcdemocrat.com

Brown County Water Utility wants to upgrade its aging infrastructure.

Its board of directors is considering 11 projects estimated to cost $9.3 million to correct water pressure issues, fix water leaks and reduce maintenance costs.

The public can comment on the proposed projects at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at the utility office in Bean Blossom.

The projects are discussed in detail in a preliminary engineering report by Robert E. Curry & Associates of Danville.

Engineer Lori Young wrote the report. “Action must be taken in order to maintain the integrity of the water utility and provide improved reliability and water quality to customers,” she wrote.

The board wants to avoid increasing rates to pay for the projects.

The utility is about to pay off loans that will free up $433,000 annually to pay toward new debt. If not all the projects fit into the loan and grant(s) the utility receives, those projects will be adjusted.

The utility is considering funding from USDA Rural Development and the Indiana State Revolving Fund Loan Program. To do so, it must receive permission from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, and that requires a rate study, which is underway.

The projects

In the Spearsville and Peoga Road area, a lengthy section of 5-inch water main needs to be replaced with a 12-inch pipe. That would improve water flow and stabilize water pressure to customers.

The study calls for eliminating the aging Peoga water tank and using the newer, 250,000-gallon Spicer tank.

The Spearsville booster station, which is original equipment dating to 1970, would be replaced.

The older, smaller pipes in the distribution system create “bottlenecks” in flow. That’s the reason for wanting to replace the 2- and 4-inch water mains along Upper Salt Creek Road from Gold Point Road to Webber Road and from Sprunica Road to Ford Ridge Road with 8-inch pipe.

Another project is upgrading a 4-inch line with a 6-inch line along Upper Bean Blossom Road from Bell Road to Ayres Road.

The Three Story Hill Road water main could receive 10,000 feet of 12-inch pipe to replace the existing 8-inch water main.

As many as 2,400 residential water meters need to be replaced to allow for automated meter reading.

According to the study, a 10-inch water main from a heavily relied upon well to the water treatment plant should be upgraded to a 16-inch line to improve the water treatment process.

The study said the 150,000-gallon Carmel Ridge Lane water storage tank needs to be replaced with a 340,000-gallon tank in order to avoid customer complaints about water pressure problems.

Another tank replacement could take place on Lanam Ridge Road. It supplies most of the utility’s distribution system. The existing tank is 500,000 gallons and in poor condition inside and out. The study calls for a 750,000-gallon tank.

Replacing the 43-year-old Knob Hill booster station would allow for constant pressure and lead to the elimination of the Knob Hill water storage tank.

The study also identifies the need to replace and add additional air release valves and flush hydrants. About half of the existing ones are not fully working. The situation leads to water discoloration from iron because problems cannot be isolated; then, water is shut off to a large number of customers during repairs. It also means a large amount of treated water doesn’t make it to customers.

About 1,200 residential service lines from the water main to the meter need to be replaced, which should eliminate ongoing problems with leaks in high-pressure distribution areas.

The history

The not-for-profit rural water utility was started in 1964 and served about 600 customers in 1971. The past 50-plus years have seen considerable expansion. Including its largest customer — the Town of Nashville — the total number of residential customers is about 6,500.

Although the population in Brown County is projected to decline over the next 40 years, the utility anticipates the number of customers it serves will continue to grow. That is from a combination of people already in the service area not using the utility’s water and the potential for expansion beyond the system’s borders.

The Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business predicts the county’s population could drop from 15,393 in 2010 to 12,785 in 2050.

The engineering study projects adding 800 water customers by 2033.

BCWU’s service area is primarily Brown County, but the utility reaches into portions of Morgan, Johnson, Monroe and Bartholomew counties. It produces some of its own water and buys it from Jackson County Water Utility and Citizens Energy Group.

In 2012, BCWU started operating a $6.28 million water treatment facility. The cost of the plant was covered by a $5 million loan to be paid back over 40 years and a $1.28 million grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Fixing the problems

The main problems facing Brown County Water Utility are a history of leaks and repairs, insufficient capacity, deterioration of infrastructure mostly due to age, and areas of high and low pressure.

“The growth of customers throughout the distribution system has created issues in some areas where the demand is greater than the capacity of the system to deliver water,” Young stated in the study.

In addition to the small, original pipes in the distribution system limiting water flow capacity, Brown County’s hilly terrain forces the utility to have pressure reducers and booster stations. Water flowing downhill must be slowed down and water needing to go uphill must be pushed. High pressure causes frequent leaks, and low pressure causes customers to complain, the study said.

Another consideration is the ground. Installing and maintaining lines in the shallow rock is expensive.

The oldest service lines leak three to four times a day, and that results in significant maintenance costs and loss of revenue. The utility loses an average of about 15 percent of its water, the study said.

Fire protection remains a concern in Brown County. The utility board recognizes that, and its members want to help the volunteer fire departments where possible. Part of the proposal could do that.

“As BCWU plans locations for installation of new flush hydrants, they will endeavor to coordinate some hydrant locations to enhance the ability to flush water mains and also provide a place to fill fire trucks,” Young wrote.

The utility board consists of Ben Phillips, David Weddle, Dan Huesman, Don Poynter, Gene Cooper, Bob Melton and Jim McDonald.

In a news release, Phillips stated: “The board and employees of Brown County Water are working to plan for the future. The proposed improvements to the water system will allow Brown County Water to provide improved service to our customers for years to come.”

Proposed projects for Brown County Water Utility

Spearsville-Peoga Road water transmission main and booster station: $1,592,080

Upper Salt Creek and Gold Point Road water main replacement: $397,160

Upper Bean Blossom Road water main replacement: $228,180

Three Story Hill Road water main replacement: $556,200

Replacement of 2,400 meters: $672,000

Replacement of raw water main and line flushing facilities: $483,300

Carmel Ridge Lane tank replacement: $555,000

Lanam Ridge Road tank replacement: $1,555,000

Knob Hill booster station replacement: $155,000

Replacement of distribution system valves and hydrants: $450,000

Replacement of service lines in high-pressure areas: $960,000

Total probable construction cost: $7,603,920

Construction contingency: $600,000

Non-construction costs (engineering, legal, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, etc.): $1,100,000

Probable total project cost: $9,303920

Source: Preliminary engineering report by Robert E. Curry & Associates

At a glance

Here is a summary of Brown County Water Utility’s distribution lines:

Water main size -- Length of pipe

Unknown -- 73,000 feet

¾ inch -- 1,800 feet

1 inch -- 22,800 feet

2 inch -- 331,700 feet

3 inch -- 259,400 feet

4 inch -- 554,100 feet

5 inch -- 54,000 feet

6 inch -- 378,000 feet

8 inch -- 277,300 feet

10 inch -- 14,000 feet

12 inch -- 84,500 feet

14 inch -- 36,500 feet

Total length: 2,287,100 feet or 433 miles

Source: Preliminary engineering report by Robert E. Curry & Associates

If you go

What: Meeting for customers to introduce Brown County Water Utility's proposal of 11 projects with an estimated cost of $9.3 million.

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29.

Where: Brown County Water Utility office, 5130 State Road 135 North in Bean Blossom.

Preview it: Before the hearing, people can inspect the preliminary engineering report that details the projects at the utility office.

Obituaries
See Full List »

George D. Higgins, 86, New Whiteland
  Father of Iris (Mike) Gindling of Spearsville

Dorothy B. Hash, 97, Columbus
  Mother of Richard Collins and John Collins, both of Brown County

Stephen Wesley Spicer, 69, Nashville
  Husband of Mary Jane Spicer (Eilar)

  • March 28
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • March 28
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • March 28
    Annual cemetery meeting slated
    1 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • March 28
    Live music at sports bar
    8 p.m. Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • March 28
    Saturday at Brown County State Park
    10 a.m., 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • March 28
    Live band at dance barn
    8 to 11 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • March 28
    Live band at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 28
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 29
    'Big Hero 6' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 29
    Mountain bike benefit to aid cheer fund
    noon to 2:30 p.m. Explore Brown County, 2620 Valley Branch Road
  • March 30
    Registration deadline for gardening soils workshop
    Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • March 31
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • March 31
    Nashville Development Review Commission
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • March 31
    Representative's staff to conduct local office hours
    10 a.m. to noon County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • March 31
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 1
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 1
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees retreat
    10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • April 1
    BC Emergency Management Advisory Council
    8 a.m. Ambulance Base, 53 State Road 46 East
  • April 1
    Brown County SWCD
    6:30 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • April 1
    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artist Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 2
    Go Club meeting Thursday
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane
  • April 2
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 2
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 2
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • April 3
    Nashville/Brown County Government Offices CLOSED
  • April 3
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 4
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 4
    Carnival and egg hunt at Hamblen Township Fire Department
    9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Hamblen Township Volunteer Fire Department, 5612 Gatesville Road
  • April 4
    Egg hunt at grocery store
    11 a.m. Brown County IGA, 30 Hawthorne Dr.
  • April 4
    Egg hunt at Deer Run Park
    1 p.m. Deer Run Park
  • April 4
    Egg hunt at assisted living facility
    2 p.m. BC Health & Living Community, 55 E. Willow St.
  • April 5
    Church events slated for Easter Sunday
    .m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
  • April 6
    Gnaw Bone Sewage District
    5:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 7
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 7
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 7
    Bean Blossom Sewer Board
    7:30 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 7
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • April 7
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • April 8
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 8
    CRC Steering Committee
    6:30 p.m. CRC, 246 E. Main St.
  • April 9
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 9
    Local Coordinating Council
    10 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Hall, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • April 9
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 9
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 9
    BC Convention & Visitors Commission
    8:30 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 10
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North.
  • April 10
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 11
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • April 11
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 12
    Mother’s Cupboard Soup Bowl benefit planned
    5 to 7 p.m. The Seasons Lodge, 560 State Road 46 East
  • April 16
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 16
    Local history and heritage presented at the library
    6:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 17
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 18
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • April 18
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • April 24
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 25
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 26
    County history center dedication slated
    2 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • April 26
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont