Projects are in the works to improve water quality and pressure in West Terre Haute and provide municipal water to the Clear Creek Rest Area on Interstate 70.
Bids are scheduled to be opened Monday for construction of a new water treatment plant and improvements to the town’s water distribution system, including installation of more than 4.6 miles of new lines.
The work is sorely needed and will address concerns about brown water, said Chuck Stranahan, vice president of the West Terre Haute Town Council.
The town currently does not treat its water except to add chlorine, said Stranahan, who previously worked for the town for 14 years, the final three years as water superintendent.
“We’ve got good water coming out of the wells, but when we treat it with chlorine that’s what gives us brown water,” he said. “If you treat it and then filter it, you don’t have [brown water].”
The water system, which includes an estimated 80 to 100 miles of water lines, is also showing its age, Stranahan said.
“In the past, we’ve had to move mains and I’ve had my hands on one that said 1939,” he said.
A problematic main at National Avenue and Thorpe Place is among several two-inch lines that will be replaced with six-inch lines.
The project includes replacement of water lines in eight square blocks inside the town, along National Avenue and a line serving a booster station at Sandford. It will also involve installation of several new fire hydrants.
The town anticipates receiving a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for the project but “a very minimum increase” in water rates may be needed, Stranahan said.
“We’ll try to keep it as low as we can but any time you improve anything the customer’s got to pay,” he said. “To get quality drinking water you’ve got to put money back into the system.”
About 1,650 customers are served by the West Terre Haute water system. In addition to the town, it provides water to Toad Hop, along Old U.S. 40, Ferguson Hill, Thorpe Place, Sarah Myers Drive (including West Vigo Middle and High schools), Lower Sandford Road and Paris Road.
A later project to connect the I-70 rest area to the system also carries an estimated cost of $3.5 million but that expense will be born by the Indiana Department of Transportation, Stranahan said. The rest area is currently served by its own wells.
Debbie Calder, communications director for the department’s Crawfordsville district, which includes Terre Haute and West Terre Haute, said the agency “is currently working through an agreement process” with the town, but it is not yet finalized.
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