Permanent solution seen for flooding near SB ethanol plant

A new plan promises to permanently separate the fate of a flood prone South Bend neighborhood and the uncertain future of the ethanol plant.

The city estimates the price tag of the plan at $375,000 and officials feel there are a couple of main reasons why that’s a price worth paying.

First, the city has been meeting with two separate parties that are interested in buying and reopening the ethanol plant. It’s unclear how much time remains to make that happen before the plant assets would be sold at auction.

“A new operator is going to require that something happens here as part of a solution, because they don't want to come into a hornets’ nest and reduce their water use, start flooding basements and have an issue with liability, or just people upset with them or bad press,” said South Bend Director of Public Works Eric Horvath. “As a requirement of getting a new operator in there they're pushing the city to get a permanent (flooding) solution here.”

Second, there’s a feeling that homeowners in the area have suffered long enough. “This is something that we can now fix and move forward,” said South Bend 6th District Councilman Oliver Davis.

The plan calls for the installation of four brand new water wells located close to the homes where flooding has occurred.

The wells would be smaller, and more efficient, but just as effective in lowering the water table.

The city would pay the $375,000 up front capital costs but residents would have to pay a monthly fee to operate and maintain the wells.

“We’re looking at somewhere I've heard as low as $12 to as high as $20 dollars,” said Oliver Davis. “So somewhere about $16, $17 a month will have to be assessed in terms of energy costs, electric costs, to keep the pumps running.”

It’s hoped that the city wells would be up and running by October.

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