Sunday, September 21, 2014
Adequate Utility Infrastructure: A Must for a Healthy & Growing Community
A January 2012 Washington Post Article articulated that “if the nation’s water and sewer systems begin to fail, life as we know it will too. Without an ample supply of water, people don’t drink, toilets don’t flush, factories don’t operate, offices shut down, and fires go unchecked. When sewage systems fail, cities can’t function and epidemics break out” (January 2, 2012 - Billions Needed to Upgrade America’s Leaky Water Infrastructure).
Out of Sight – Out of Mind
Water and sewer is out of sight and all too often out of mind until something goes wrong. The loss of water for everyone in Toledo, Ohio is an example. To avoid catastrophic issues the City of Bedford has taken proactive steps to define problems, determine steps to correct them, and implement needed projects.
A Plan to Address Long Standing Challenges
Inadequate utility infrastructure has been a challenge in Bedford for many years. The city began assessing utility infrastructure in 2008 and with the Lochmueller Group developed a sewer plan to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows (SSO’s). The estimated cost is $29.5 Million and the city is requesting 20 years to implement the plan, which was submitted to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). IDEM has responded with an Agreed Order. By approving the order the City of Bedford has agreed to a 90 day negotiating period that will determine the timeline for implementing the plan.
Utility Funding & Projects Ready to Begin
A utility bond that is refinancing debt will provide $11.5 million for high priority water and sewer projects that will be funded without increasing utility rates. (Funding through Indiana’s Stellar Communities Program cannot be used for utilities.) Additional funding will be pursued for future projects including grants, no-interest loans, TIF funds, and others to reduce reliance on utility rates to pay for mandated improvements.
NOW is the Time to Act
Adequate utility infrastructure is vital to the well-being of Bedford and is the foundation on which our community stands. Delays will increase the cost of needed projects. Left undone our ability to attract, as well as, retain business and industry that provides jobs will be damaged. This work is not easy but it is necessary and will be worth it as we build a better community for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you for all that you do to make these projects and so many others a success. I couldn’t do it without your dedication and hard work. Together we are building a better Bedford for today and for future generations.
Shawna M. Girgis
Mayor, City of Bedford
(812) 279-6555 – Office
Stellar Foundation . . . Stellar Future
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