SYRACUSE – At the monthly Syracuse Town Council meeting Tuesday, Director of Public Works Rob Merchant reported that the town water loss is at 28.6 percent.
Per state requirement, this needs to be under 25 percent.
Merchant stated he’s been trying to find the missing water. He recommended to the council that the town start mandating that the water lines used for fire services be metered. This is due to not being able to get cooperation from several industries in town when it’s time to give him the numbers from their usage testing.
“It’s a problem,” he said. “Besides not being able to account for the water that they use ... they could have leaks on their lines. They could have multiple leaks and nobody knows.”
An example he gave was if a company needed a bathroom, it might tie that room’s water to whatever water line is nearest, whether it is a fire service line or not.
Merchant said that one of the questions that came up during the town’s recent inspection by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management was whether or not Syracuse was monitoring water usage from its fire services.
“The state is going to want to know what we’re doing to find our lost water,” he said.
Council member Larry Siegel questioned what the 28.6 percent water loss would equate to in gallons. Merchant answered that the water loss for March was just shy of 2 million gallons.
“It's been running between 2.5 million to 3.5 million gallons that we have no idea what happened to,” he stated.
The council agreed that a new ordinance should be written.
Merchant then reported that the town is currently in violation of the rules of the IDEM. The weekly limit allowed for suspended solids is 27 and the town of Syracuse is at 29.8. He stated that this would be an ongoing thing until the equipment situation is resolved. Merchant said that he had been filling out the proper non-compliance 24-hour notification report that needed to be sent to the IDEM instructor.
Council member Paul Stoelting wante\d to know what IDEM would require of the town. Merchant answered that he did not know until he gets an enforcement letter from them. He noted that at the very least IDEM would want to see that Syracuse has some sort of plan in place to take care of the issue, and that the issue was completely from the fiasco revolving around the equipment that was installed in 2016 was not working correctly.
“There is nothing we can do to the current equipment to make it work,” Merchant explained. “We have tried everything. Triad’s solution was to run the units in series, which captured some of the solids but not all.”
Stoelting questioned if there was a possibility of being able to get money back for the current equipment, but Merchant said that what Syracuse is able to do to get money back from the equipment was going to have to be a separate issue from the town’s attempt to get back into compliance with Indiana code. The board concurred that there wasn’t much choice in the matter.
Merchant noted that removal of the older equipment will be fairly easy and could be done by the town. Council President Tom Hoover asked what type of equipment was needed in order to do this. Merchant said that some sort of hoist rental would be required, but that he could get back with the council on a price for that.
The council passed a motion to authorize Merchant to contract with D.L. Anderson to purchase another system not to exceed $156,000 to be delivered within 60 days.
Next, Merchant reported that the town should consider selling some sewage equipment. He said that since it is attached to the sewer utility, which is a non-tax-supported department, state law allows for the town to sell the equipment. He recommends that the town accept advertised bids for it.
Merchant also reported that he was talking with a company about paving several of the streets in the area. Siegal questioned whether there were any options to keep the mess of paving a road down. Merchant suggested either laying sand down right away and also using smaller portions of pavement. The council passed a motion to enter into contract with Paving Solutions for $42,000, with the roads to be finished by May 20.
Finally, Merchant brought up the subject of the outdated phone systems, noting it is between 15 to 25 years old and that they can no longer service the phones that they have. The council passed a motion to enter into contract with CenturyLink to redo the phone system within 90 days for the amount of $9,626,74 and $85 per line for an outside contractor.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott notified the council that the storm sirens were fixed and ready to go and they would continue to test them every first Friday of the month.
He also announced a new firefighter will start Monday.
In public comments, Julie Moore, owner of Yours, Ours, and Mine, asked if anything had been done with the discussion from March regarding the smoke that emanates from The Bar-B-Q restaurant. Hoover said that as far as the council is concerned, there is no longer a problem.
Moore then addressed the new change to the alley behind Syracuse Hardware. She stated that when individuals pull out onto Huntington Street, lack of visibility makes the road extremely dangerous.
Hoover asked Police Chief James Layne to explain the safety issues that required the change to the street to a one-way street.
Merchant pondered if changing the parking spaces on the west side of Huntington could be modified, or one taken out altogether, in an attempt to make the corner more safe. All involved in the discussion believed this might be the best solution. Merchant said he would look into the issue before the next meeting.
Vice President Bill Musser asked if the placement of a fire hydrant downtown had been checked into yet. Merchant said that he needed to find out what size the water line there was, since a hydrant needs to be placed on a specific size of pipe. He said he would look into this.