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Public comment period extended for controversial wastewater plant on west side

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A controversial sewage plant could be built on Indianapolis’ west side, pending an extension of a public comment period and a public meeting Oct. 26.

The Ben Davis Conservancy District that operates wastewater for more than 3,000 residents wants to build a sewage plant at 900 S. Tibbs Ave. to save residents money. The decision is years in the making as the district’s board wants to combat rising wastewater treatments costs from Citizens Energy Group.

A public hearing concerning a pollutant discharge permit, formally known as an NPDES, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Indiana Government Center South Auditorium, 302 W. Washington St. This is the second public notice period for the sewage plant after the Indiana Department of Environmental Management received “multiple requests to hold a public hearing and extend the comment period for the permit,” a spokesperson for IDEM said.

The permit proposes the effluent waste to be discharged into Neeld Ditch. The point of the permit is to control the discharge of pollutants into water so the quality of water is maintained with state standards. According to IDEM documents, ammonia “would cause a significant lowering of water quality into the receiving steam.”

However, IDEM has made a tentative decision that the economic value outweighs the environmental risks and remaining connected to Citizens would create a “large impact” scenario whereas disconnecting and constructing a new plant would create a “mid-range impact” scenario.

Residents with the West Indy Neighborhood Congress said dumping into Neeld Ditch goes against their quality-of-life plan and land-use plan.

Citizens tried to buy the conservancy district out of building a wastewater plant in May, but the board unanimously voted to reject the offer.

Contact environmental reporter Jayden Kennett at 317-762-7847 or by email JaydenK@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @JournoJay.

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