WASHINGTON — At a public hearing prior to Monday night’s Washington City Council meeting, several people spoke in favor of a grant project that would allow the City of Washington to make improvements to its water system.
The roughly six-month construction project would close E. VanTrees Street one block at a time as new pipe is laid to replace deteriorating main line and service lines that are more than a century old and keep breaking. The street will be repaved and curbs replaced as part of the project.
Water Works Superintendent Charlie Kane said the line has broken four times in the past two years. Though the only way in and out of Bryan and Maria Sergesketter’s driveway is on E. VanTrees Street, Maria said they would be happy to see the work done to avoid more water outages. Councilman Allen Brown works at Daviess Community Hospital, and he said the breaks create problems at the hospital: Water has to be brought in for drinking and other uses, and toilets sometimes can’t be flushed.
The dialysis center also is impacted.
Other issues caused by line breaks have included flooding at the jail, inconvenience to residents through outages and/or decreased water pressure, the waste water treatment facility is overwhelmed, streets and sidewalks are damaged, and emergency response times may be hindered. In addition, there’s a cost to the city in overtime when repairs must be made.
“It takes about 12 hours to fix each time it breaks,” Kane said.
Washington Fire Chief David Rhoads said the larger lines and additional, new hydrants that would be installed with the proposed project would benefit the fire department.
He said similar work done on the west side has made a big difference.
Rex Knight, project coordinator for the Southern Indiana Development Commission, who was conducting the public hearing, said the Community Development Block Grants are competitive and there’s only one round now, so it’s hard to determine what the city’s chances of receiving a grant might be. Wellman said the city is seeking a $500,000 matching grant for the $1.1-million project. A previous attempt to secure one of the grants was unsuccessful.