Still no solution to flooding problems caused by shuttered ethanol plant

Five meetings later, some South Bend residents still have no solution to their water woes.

Since the New Energy Ethanol Plant closed in November, nearby residents have reported problems with flooding and mildew in their basements.

On Thursday night, South Bend leaders held another meeting about the issue, but said there is still no obvious fix.

"I, as a district person, have gone as far as I can possibly go without having to hear from Mayor Buttigieg regarding how he's going to solve this matter," said Common Council Vice President Oliver Davis.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg has yet to make it to one of the meetings, but his chief of staff did.

Mike Schmuhl says Buttigieg found a lawyer who's willing to take the case on pro bono.

The administration has also contacted Senator Joe Donnelly and the Department of Energy to express their desire for New Energy to be taken over by operators.

Last week, two liquidation companies won the plant at auction by filing a joint bid.

Another bidder and the city intervened in U.S. Bankruptcy Court this week, saying the bidding was unfair and the plant should go to an operator, not a liquidator.

If that happened, the city could negotiate to have the plant's pumps turned back on.

But, the judge approved the sale.

While the administration says it's still gathering information on what to do next, residents say they're sick of waiting for a solution.

"I'm tired of all these meetings," said Cheryl Taylor, who lives on West Calvert Street. "I think this is just a waste of time."

Taylor started to notice water seeping into her basement last week and says its quickly caused problems.

"I have breathing problems and all the mold is in my house right now,: she said. "I got brand new walls. What do I do? Tear them down?"

Many of the dozens of other residents at Thursday's meeting wondered the same thing.

They're wondering what they're supposed to do while they wait for the city to act.

City leaders say it's a matter of funding now.

Several solutions have been suggested, such as building wells in the affected neighborhoods or putting a pump station nearby.

But, it's unclear how the city would pay for those fixes.

Davis says any decision on funding must come from Buttigieg.

The mayor will meet with the new owners of New Energy Friday to see if there's anyway to get the pumps turned back on.

When it was in operation, New Energy pumped about 6.2 million gallons of water out of the ground everyday.

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