Dozens of failing septic systems in Guilford have been polluting Tanners Creek for years, but a state grant is being sought to help fund a new treatment plant.
(Guilford, Ind.) – In the secluded hamlet of Guilford, failing septic systems have been a known environmental problem for two decades
Now, a solution may not be far off for more than 50 homes in the area with septic systems deemed by the Dearborn County Health Department to be failing.
Many of the affected homeowners in and near Guilford have been told to vacate their homes. Almost all of them are unable to sell their homes because they cannot afford to have a new septic system installed. Currently, there are no alternatives available to handle their sewage.
Not only are failing septics a problem for homeowners, but there are also public health concerns. According to a 2007 study of Dearborn County wastewater systems by Woolpert, Inc., “Ineffective septic systems throughout this community are allowing untreated wastewater to settle on the ground surface and eventually flow into Tanners Creek.”
The study identified a wastewater treatment plant as one of a handful of solutions.
The Dearborn County Regional Sewer District received on April 2 the blessing of Dearborn County Commissioners to pursue a grant of up to $700,000 from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to help fund a Guilford treatment plant.
The sewer district would pay the remaining cost, which totals an estimated $1.37 million, from money it has saved up.
DCRSD board member Steve Renihan explains the proposed plant on Bonnell Road will be small with a capacity of 20,000 gallons. That is only enough to handle about 150 homes maximum.
“It won’t foster all kinds of development and activity and that kind of thing,” says Renihan.
By comparison, the South Dearborn Regional Sewer District’s plant along U.S. 50 in Lawrenceburg has a capacity of six million gallon per day.
DCRSD is only in the beginning steps of the application process, which will include a public hearing and an income study. The application would be submitted to OCRA later this year. The agency would be expected to announce the grant recipients in early 2020.
The sought-after grant would also help fund the installation of sewer lines through the area to reach homes. Renihan says the fee to hook-up to the sewer would be $8,000 per home.
It would be a cheaper solution for residents than paying for a new private septic system, many of which run between $10,000 and $15,000, per Renihan.
Dearborn County Commissioner Jim Thatcher acknowledges septics in Guilford have been a problem for too long.
“We are very hopeful and cautiously optimistic that with the onset of this grant – and hopefully we do receive it – that it will resolve a lot of issues out there. It should add value to the folks’ homes, because right now they can’t even sell their houses,” he said.
Thatcher attributes the slow process of adding sewers to funding. He also explained that Dearborn County’s population is concentrated in pockets, making running sewer lines difficult.
“Getting it to three or four homes, maybe you can’t cost justify it,” he said, “but wherever we can make strides to enhance our infrastructure in the county – especially in sewers and roads and bridges and so on – we’re much better ahead in the future.”
Other solutions identified in the Woolpert study included running a new sewer line from Guilford to connect to Greendale’s sewer system or connecting to a new regional wastewater system. Both of those options would likely cost significantly more than a new treatment plant.
A new treatment plant was a similar solution to a septic problem at High Ridge Estates in Aurora, Renihan says.