Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 2, 2013

Kokomo Common Council deals with sewers, funding

Veterans advocate makes $50K request.

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

— The Kokomo Common Council moved ahead on a new sewer ordinance last week, approving four pages of changes to a measure first passed in November.

Complaints from local industry, primarily Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Components Holdings, prompted most of the changes, which eliminated some of the restrictions the original ordinance would have laid on industries discharging to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The ordinance still has to pass a review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but Monday evening, representatives from Chrysler and GMCH came to the council meeting to praise the amended document.

Steve Dixon, a senior environmental engineer at GMCH, said the changes were reached after a long discussion period, including meetings, emails and phone calls between the city and industry.

“This will help the people of the community, and also offer [industrial] users a very flexible system for negotiating future permits with the city,” Dixon said.

Mark Werthman, an environmental affairs manager with Chrysler, said the ordinance has taken two years to develop, and called it a “great ordinance, both for the city and industrial users, as well as industrial users who might relocate to Kokomo in the future.”

The city is attempting a move to a different system of monitoring pollution, where industrial users no longer have individually set limits for certain pollutants.

Instead, the city will set collective daily limits for all pollutants coming into the wastewater plant. City officials describe the limits as a pie, with each separate industry taking slices of varying sizes each day.

Initially, city officials had hoped to establish tighter local limits as part of the new ordinance, but the attempt didn’t survive the negotiating process with industry. Proposed local limits for biological oxygen demand, ammonia and total suspended solids were eliminated in the amended version.

City attorney Lawrence McCormack said the city was looking ahead, at the possibility state and federal environmental regulations may tighten in the future. The city is responsible for meeting state and federal limits for pollutants discharged from the wastewater plant, which is why the city must limit the amount of pollutants flowing into the plant from local industry.

“We were able to make changes where we could, and in other areas, we told [industry representatives] that we just couldn’t,” McCormack said. “We reached a final product everyone could live with.”

If the ordinance wins EPA approval, the city will start writing individual permits with each industrial user, he added.

In other business:

The council received a $50,000 funding request from local veterans advocate Jerry Paul, who is raising money to build a new statue at the Howard County Veterans Memorial at Darrough Chapel Park.

Paul said he has a design and a sculptor in mind, but said at the present rate of fundraising, it would take about four years to raise the full amount needed for the project, which he estimated at $220,000.

Paul wants to build a bronze sculpture of several family members reaching out to a service member.

“I want you to feel that family. I want you to feel that anguish. I want it to be as real as possible,” Paul said.

Council member Tom Miklik, R-6th, asked the council to give Paul’s funding request “some serious thought.”

The council also moved ahead on Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight’s request to appropriate $2.89 million from the economic development income tax fund for 2013.

There will be a public hearing on the appropriation request at 7 p.m. Feb. 11, in council chambers, City Hall, 100 S. Union St.

Council vice president Bob Hayes, D-At Large, said he has faith Goodnight will use EDIT funds wisely, and said the administration communicates with council before spending EDIT.

“In the previous administration we didn’t get this; the money was just spent,” Hayes said. “I want to give [Goodnight] credit, because he’s done the right thing by us.”

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.

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