PERU — To meet increasing demand, the wastewater treatment plant at the Grissom Aeroplex is being expanded four-fold.

Peru City Utilities, which provides utility service to the industrial park south of the city, is issuing $9.5 million in bonds to increase the plant from its current capacity of 500,000 gallon per day to 2 million gallons.

“It will pretty much be a new plant,” said Roger Merriman, general manager for Peru City Utilities. “We’re at maximum capacity right now. It’s not large enough to handle the flow.”

Merriman said construction should start in May and be completed in late 2010.

They have already received approval for a loan from the Indiana Revolving Loan fund to pay for the upgrade.

“The state is getting some federal stimulus money for shovel-ready projects,” he said. “If we receive any of the stimulus money, the interest rate on that amount will be zero. It may come in the form of a grant.”

Merriman said the interest rate on the loan, no matter what the final amount borrowed, will be less than 3.5 percent.

“We can’t calculate the new sewer rates until we know the interest rate,” he said.

Merriman said the new plant will only increase the sewer rate for those customers served by the plant at the aeroplex.

Peru Mayor Jim Walker said the hope is that the utilities will receive federal stimulus money for the project.

Reportedly, Peru City Utilities will receive $5.6 million for the project in stimulus funding and the interest rate on that amount will be 0 percent, he said.

Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said the expansion is crucial for future development.

“It’s doubtful we could put a big user on the system,” he said of the current plant capacity. “We are always looking for ways to make the area more attractive to developers.”

Tidd said there is plenty of capacity for the water supply available for future development.

He said any stimulus funding will help keep the sewer rates lower and competitive with other areas.

“We always have three or four companies looking,” Tidd said of prospective developments. “With the economy the way it is, people are looking and hope to move forward in the future.”

Tidd said the Grissom Aeroplex is an important part of regional economic development.

Ken de la Bastide can be reached at (765) 454-8580 or via e-mail at ken.delabastide@kokomotribune.com

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