Elkhart gets just one bid do cut sewer service via no-dig method

Elkhart opened a bid on an alternative means to sever sewer service of customers not signing on to a new sewer compact accord.
Posted on Jan. 10, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 10, 2014 at 1:01 p.m.

ELKHART — Just one company submitted a proposal to the city to cut sewer service via a no-dig method, part of the ongoing controversy over a group of customers outside the city who haven’t signed on to a new sewer fee schedule.

The Elkhart Board of Public Works opened the lone proposal Thursday, Jan. 9, from Culy Contracting of Windsor. The firm proposed a fee of $15,650 to cut service to six customers and city officials tabled action on the matter until the next planned meeting on Jan. 21.

The Board of Public Works sought bids last month from companies that could sever sewer lines to customers outside Elkhart via the no-dig method. Using such a method, the city wouldn’t have to shovel earth, bypassing the need to get excavation permits from the Elkhart County Highway Department to dig down to the lines to physically sever them.

Several residential sewer customers outside the city have refused to sign on to a new rate plan for around a year now and city officials have warned the holdouts that they face a cut in service. Last March, city officials seemed on the verge of cutting service to holdout customers, but Elkhart County officials wouldn’t provide the needed excavation permits, worried that halting sewer service would pose a health hazard.

Via the no-dig method, crews would send robots down a manhole into the sewer system and the machines would travel to the lateral connections of holdout customers, installing blocking devices.

Sewer customers outside Elkhart pay more than those inside the city, a point of contention for some. A new rate agreement approved Nov. 18 after months of back and forth requires residential customers outside Elkhart to pay a flat $35 fee on top of their normal sewer bill, down from $50 outlined in the previous ordinance.

Most holdouts have signed on to the new agreement, but a handful of customers still haven’t, according to Mike Machlan, president of the Board of Public Works. He reported no deadlines for the holdouts to sign on to the new accord before facing cuts in service.

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