Warsaw Common Council on Monday approved a memorandum of understanding with the Tippecanoe and Chapman Regional Sewer District.

The District’s board previously approved the MOU.

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer said Brian Davison, wastewater treatment utility manager, serves on the board.

“What’s being proposed is, they want to do a memorandum of understanding that we will indeed treat their effluent. The details of that, the deeper financial details will come later on in the actual contract. But, as they progress, they want to know that we are willing to take on their effluent. In light of our expansion, and other things, I’ve asked Brian to go ahead and talk about what that will mean for the utility, what that will mean for our rates, our rate payers, and our revenue,” Thallemer said.

Davison said the basis of the MOU is that the city will accept the flow from that sewer district. The District needs the MOU for its State Revolving Fund and USDA loans.

“They need some assurance that they have somewhere to send their wastewater. So that’s the point of this memorandum of understanding,” Davison said. “And, the fees and the cost of service, like the mayor said, will all be determined later in an actual contract written with them very similar to what we have with Leesburg and Winona Lake.”

In terms of flow, he said the District is estimating to buy a capacity of 360,000 to 400,000 gallons per day. The MOU states the “District will assume a growth rate of 4.5% applied over a 20-year design horizon.” The District will construct a force main connection to the city’s manhole at CR 100E and Pound Road to connect the District’s collection system to the city’s sewage works. The District also will provide necessary in-pipe treatment of the sewage in the District’s collection system to achieve sewage characteristics that are “compatible with the city’s sewage works.”

Davison said Warsaw’s recent plant expansion took the city to a 6 million gallon capacity. Back in 2016, when the city began looking at the plant expansion, he said the city’s flow was about 3.5 million gallons a day. In 2017, that was 3.9 million; 2018, 3.8 million; and 2019, 3.7 million.

“Now remember, 90% is where (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) says you need to do something so you don’t reach 100% capacity of your plant. Well, 90% for us was 3.5 million gallons, so we where there, but we had already moved in the direction of a plant expansion,” he said.

In 2020, the flow dropped to 3.3 million gallons a day. Davison said a lot of that drop may have been due to the pandemic and many people sent home to work and factories closing. In 2021, he said they’re still averaging in the lower range, but a lot of people are still working from home.

“We’ve also completed several – I mean, $10 million worth of – sanitary sewer projects. Maybe we’ve tightened up our sewer systems a little bit. I haven’t looked to see billed flow versus flow treated to see how much improvement we have seen from that,” he said.

The reason he gave the Council those details, he said, is because the city still has the same flow as it did in 2016. Typically, a plant has a 20-year life cycle.

“And at that point in 2016, if we averaged 80,000 gallons a year increase, which I think is in the 2% growth, that plant lasted until 2045. We’re five years later and we’re still at that same flow, so I would suggest 2050 is ... where that plant expectancy would last to,” Davison said.

It said treating the District’s flow really doesn’t hurt the life expectancy of the plant and it gives the city a larger customer base to share the cost of treatment. Financially, he said it was a good move for the city and he didn’t think it would affect how soon the city would need to do a plant expansion.

Davison said the city started talking with the District well before the Airport Industrial Park annexation so “we built the infrastructure out there with a connection point that would handle the flow from there. So we don’t have to do any more improvements to our collection system. We sort of planned for it for the future. And it also gives us an opportunity to expand further in that direction.”

The District will tell the city how much capacity it wants to purchase. There are penalties if the District sends more flow than it asks for to the city.

Davison also mentioned the city was seeing a real electrical savings on the new plant, which was a “real plus.”

Councilwoman Diane Quance made the motion to approve the MOU, with Councilman Jerry Frush providing the second. It was approved unanimously.