GRIFFITH | Griffith will explore shifting its wastewater treatment to the Gary Sanitary District.
Griffith Councilman Rick Ryfa and Daniel F. Vicari, executive director of the sanitary district, said Wednesday they have been discussing the idea.
"We will establish the feasibility of whether we can lay a line and how much flow will be received," Vicari said.
Ryfa said the move is part of the Town Council's efforts to explore alternatives to the Hammond Sanitary District, which has threatened to cancel its services to Griffith, Highland and Whiting in a financial dispute among the communities.
Ryfa said Griffith also will look into building its own treatment facility.
Vicari said his board of directors approved a memorandum of understanding Wednesday that will create a 90-day period where discussions can take place.
The Hammond Sanitary District, which treats sewage for 150,000 customers in Griffith, Hammond, Highland, Munster and Whiting, triggered a series of lawsuits last summer when its Hammond and Munster officials canceled a 19-year-old cost-sharing agreement among them over wastewater treatment.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has said Hammond and Munster residents are unfairly bearing the entire cost of water-pollution controls the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered, including tens of millions of dollars to construct a retention basin to stop dumping untreated wastewater into the Grand Calumet River during heavy storms.
McDermott said Griffith, Highland and Whiting were sending more wastewater to Hammond than the old contract permitted. Those three communities refused to pay more, arguing in court Hammond and Munster couldn't end the arrangement without a consensus among all parties.
A judge recently dismissed all the lawsuits and ordered the communities to submit their disputes to a panel of arbitrators.
McDermott couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment.