HAMMOND | Construction on a federally mandated project to reduce sewage overflows into the Grand Calumet River is expected to begin by May.
The Hammond Sanitary District awarded a $40.3 million contract to Dyer Construction this month to build a catch basin near the Columbia Avenue treatment plant. The project also will construct mains to route discharges from two pumping stations, which now pump directly into the river, to the basin.
The basin will hold the combined sewage and stormwater created during rainfalls so it no longer flows untreated into the Grand Calumet River in an event called a “combined sewer overflow.”
The project has been in the works for at least 15 years as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cracked down on sewage overflows across the country, said Stan Dostatni, Sanitary District president.
“It significantly reduces the sewage during large rain events going into the river,” Dostatni said.
“It’s not going to totally eliminate it. It’s going to take in all the smaller storms. If we get a gully washer like we did four or five years ago, you’ll probably have some CSOs, but a much less significant CSO event.”
Dostatni said the Sanitary District wanted to finish the project, especially given the completion of a separate project by federal and state environmental agencies to remove contaminated sediment from the river.
A final component the Sanitary District needed to begin construction on the project was a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Though the state eventually granted the permit, IDEM questioned the district’s plan to build the basin, designed to hold 34 million gallons of water, without a plastic or concrete liner.
The Sanitary District agreed to add an additional liner to satisfy the state. The change is anticipated to increase the cost of the project by $1.5 million, said Dennis Benoit, the project's engineer.
The project is scheduled to be complete by spring 2015.