Underground systems causing emergencies for city

Age is catching up to the City of Warsaw’s sanitary and storm systems.

City officials say the extensive damage they’ve unexpectedly ran into over the past couple of weeks could become commonplace in other projects because of crumbling infrastructure.
The extent of the problems was highlighted Friday when city officials received an update on the Main Street reconstruction project east of the north/south railroad.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Beeler told the Board of Public Works and Safety Friday that the only sealed bid for the Main Street paving project was opened Monday. The bid for $232,397 was from Phend & Brown, it met specifications and came in under the project estimate of $250,000.

Funding for this project will come from two funds, $135,087.92 from the Local Option Income Tax and $97,309.08 from the Rainy Day Restricted – Local Roads and Streets fund. Mayor Joe Thallemer said the money is part of the state grant where the state and city split the cost 50/50. The board approved the Phend & Brown bid. Beeler hopes the paving will get done in October, possibly as soon as Oct. 1.

There’s been some delays to the Main Street project, so Thallemer asked for Beeler, Wastewater Treatment Utility Manager Brian Davison and City Engineer James Emans to elaborate on the work that’s been done the last few weeks.
Davison said, “The majority of the project was sewer replacement from Reed down to Hickory. It didn’t go that entire length. There were two sections that where we were tying into – once we got to that point, we realized that the first section beyond the original design was bad, so we went ahead and replaced that.”

Then there was a “spot repair” to be made in the last section between the railroad and a manhole, so that had to be fixed, he said. Later in the meeting, the board approved the emergency change order for that work totaling about $95,000.

“Then we started getting sinkholes at that last manhole before the railroad track and that’s what we were dealing with the last couple of weeks,” Davison said. Come to find out, he said, all the other two pipes coming into that structure were bad and the whole bottom of that structure was out, causing all the sinkholes. From Monday through Wednesday, the structure was built from the inside out, he said.

“Everything is complete at this point. We’re waiting on asphalt, and they’re tentatively scheduled for Tuesday to put the asphalt on our section,” Davison said, referring to the section near the railroad.

The rest will be asphalted around the Oct. 1 date that Beeler referenced.

Emans explained, “This network of pipe that kind of unraveled is part of piping that we believe was installed around 1900. There is an extensive network of that pipe still in service inside the city, and the utility is seeing repeated failures of that pipe.”
He said the work that was done along Main this last week was not on anyone’s radar.

He said all the work that happened this week on Main Street was “truly an emergency. It was not on anyone’s radar. But I’m here to say that miles of pipe that we’ve got of the same vintage, we run the risk of having the same issue any day.”

Emans assured the board the utilities were working to address the aging infrastructure issue.
Thallemer said, “This is something we have to be pro-active about and understand that these failures with this pipe, that’s over 115 years old, is going to fail.”
He said it will take a major utility project, requiring a significant engineering plan.
“We have no choice. Age is catching up with us,” Thallemer said.

The board later approved an engineering agreement amendment with Wessler Engineering for Main Street improvements.

The amendment included the following modifications: removal of guaranteed savings and sewer rehabilitation services as they relate to the project; addition of design, bidding and construction administration/observation services for the project’s sanitary sewer replacement; and additional compensation for construction administration/observation services in the amount of $37,000 to provide for additional on-call services as requested by the city.

The additional compensation brings the total Wessler contract amount to $131,000, which is approximately 24.5 percent of the construction cost as bid, according to provided documentation from the project manager.

New electric service contracts with NIPSCO as requested by Davison were approved. NIPSCO received an order July 18 from the IURC approving new electric service tariffs, which will be effective the first October 2016 billing cycle. NIPSCO will begin billing customers under the new electric rates on or about Oct. 1.

In compliance with the new tariffs, a new electric service contract must be executed.
The contracts are for the Central Park, Cook and Sheridan, Detroit Street, Eagle Drive, East Market Street, Fairlaine Drive, Fox Farm Road, Lakeshore Drive, Lakewood Hills, North Bay Drive, North Pointe and Sand Dollar, Park and Arthur, Prairie Street, Sheridan and Winona Avenue lift stations and the West Center Street pump station.

Davison also reported the city received a letter this week from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management it’s been waiting on for a couple of years. The letter states “we have officially closed out the agreed order from 2002 from all the issues we had with the old plant. Fourteen years later, and a lot of money later, we’ve finally reached that point where we’ve got that letter,” Davison said. “It’s great news.”

Thallemer added, “The tardiness of that letter wasn’t necessarily the fault of us not complying. There were a lot of glitches at IDEM and some time-outs down there that we weren’t necessarily certain of.”

He said he thought they got everything taken care of 18 months ago, but IDEM forgot to send the letter. Davison said the letter was dated Aug. 8 and they just got it this week.
“And that should have been sent a year ago, from what I was told, but we’ve got it,” Thallemer said.

After the meeting, Davison explained that in 2002 IDEM and the Federal Fish & Wildlife came in and essentially raided the old plant due to permit violations and fish kill in Walnut Creek. Through that, the city entered into an agreed order with the state and completed that almost two years ago, but didn’t get the letter about that order being closed until this week.
“We’ve been waiting on this letter since,” he said.