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Berne report set for IDEM by deadline – McKean: ‘Encouraged’ by meeting with agency

January 29, 2013

    The city of Berne will submit a preliminary report to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management by Friday's deadline, outlining its plan to enhance the city's waste water treatment process to meet new state mandates.
    The city is under orders from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to reduce the amount of ammonia contained in waste water that is being discharged to area rivers and streams by the year 2015. A preliminary engineering report outlining how the city will tackle its ammonia reduction must be submitted to IDEM by Feb. 1.
    Earlier this month a group of city officials traveled to Lamar, Missouri, to view a wastewater treatment system that is similar to one Berne officials would like to construct.
    The Missouri town employs the use of a single 45-acre lagoon to treat its wastewater and is similar to Berne's current two-lagoon system. Berne officials met with Lamar's city administrator and wastewater treatment supervisor to view the Sager bio-filtration system used in that city and were impressed with what they saw.
    At Monday evening's brief city council meeting, Mayor Bill McKean said a recent meeting with IDEM officials seemed to suggest that the state environmental officials are equally excited about the bio-filtration method of ammonia removal.
    "Overall we were encouraged by our meeting in Indy," said McKean. "We had a very good meeting with IDEM and they were very interested in the Sager system; they spoke very highly of it."
    The mayor said Berne officials also met that day with a representative of the state Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to discuss financing for the waste water plant upgrade. Berne will apply for a loan through the RLF, as well as any loans or grants available through the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, he said.
    Included as part of the state requirements is the need for a new waste water utility rate study to be performed. McKean said city officials will select a rate consultant to perform that work in the near future.
    The mayor also noted that a design contract will need to be executed with Commonwealth Engineering for the project. Ben Adams of Commonwealth Engineering will attend council's February 11 meeting to present additional details, McKean said.    The design phase of the project must be submitted to IDEM by October of this year, with construction to begin by January 1, 2014.
    No cost estimates have yet been provided for the waste water improvement project.

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