LAKE STATION — Brown water is flowing through Lake Station's water system.
Mayor Christopher Anderson said the situation began within the past few weeks, and it appears it was caused by a “glitch in the computer system” at Lake Station's water filtration plant.
Anderson said the situation allowed for additional minerals to enter the water system, creating the brown and discolored water.
He said the problem was more widespread this time because the situation originated at the water treatment plant.
Anderson said Lake Station continues to test its water supply regularly.
The water is “not pretty to see,” but it is still safe to drink, he said. The municipality will continue testing, and residents will be notified if any health issues are found in the system.
It isn't certain how long water will remain discolored. It should clear up as more water gets used, Anderson said.
The municipality has encountered ongoing issues of brown water appearing in lines.
“We can't catch a break here,” Anderson said.
He said he understands residents' frustrations as the problems continue to occur.
Although the latest issue originated at the water treatment plant, many of the past discoloration issues have been caused when fire hydrants are opened or after water main breaks.
Anderson said minerals can build up in water lines. When a hydrant is used or a break occurs, it can stir up those minerals and send them through the water system. Residents then see discolored water run from their faucets, Anderson said.
A comprehensive flush of the water system is in the works to help clear lines of mineral buildup and prevent additional brown water situations.
Before it can happen, an interconnected line to the city's backup water supply must be repaired.
Anderson said H&G Underground Utilities has received a $158,510 contract to complete the work. A part needed for the project should arrive Thursday, and it should take less than a week to complete the repairs to the line under the bridge at Ind. 51.
After that's done, Lake Station will need several consecutive days of mild weather before the comprehensive flush can take place, Anderson said.
He said “it sucks” not having a definitive date scheduled for the flush, but the city will complete the work as soon as possible.
Anderson said if Indiana American Water is allowed to acquire Lake Station's water utility, that would create more opportunities to enhance water quality in the city.
Indiana American anticipates investing $2.8 million for capital improvements to the water system within the first five years of ownership and plans to switch the city's water supply to Lake Michigan instead of treated groundwater.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in a split decision in August authorized Indiana American's proposal to purchase the utility for more than $20 million. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor filed an appeal in September in the acquisition case.
The Indiana Court of Appeals has given the OUCC until Dec. 28 to file a brief in the case.
Anderson said it isn't known when a decision will be made with the appeal.