MONTGOMERY — Officials in Montgomery have begun looking for big money to fix a problem with its sewer system. The system has not been able to grow since it was first put into place in the 1960s and now the community is facing problems with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
“Our sewer situation is bad enough that IDEM says we need it fixed,” said Montgomery Town Board President Mike Healy. “Our community has grown enough that the old system isn’t able to take on any more customers.”
Montgomery officials project that fixing the problem will entail considerable work at the town’s lagoons. The estimated price tag is around $5 million.
“We have put in a request for a state grant,” said Healy. “We have also kicked in all of our American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) money ($158,000), all of our EDIT money ($75,000) and it still isn’t close.”
The town asked Daviess County for $1.2 million from the County’s ARPA funds. They did not get the whole amount. The county’s ARPA fund committee did agree to put up $500,000 toward the project.
“This project did fit into the list of things that we are willing to spend that federal funding on,” said President of the Daviess County Council Tony Duncheon. “We just cut back our participation to 10% of the projected cost.”
The items on the county’s list for ARPA projects include housing, water, waste water, tourism and broadband.
“This will help with housing as well,” said Healy. “We cannot run any new lines on our system to go to housing developments or industry. If this project goes through, the capacity of the lagoons will double and allow us to expand.”
If the grants do not go through, then the community might be facing a stiff increase in rates. Currently sewer rates run $58 per household but if the community has to foot the bill for all of the fixes those rates will rise to $150 per household.
“This grant we are seeking could cover anywhere from none of the cost to 100%,” said Healy. “We are beginning to work on a rate study. We are hopeful we can get some more assistance on this and keep any rate increase as small as possible. We just know one way or another we are going to have to do something about the capacity at our lagoons.”