State Government and State Agencies and Sewer and Utilities and Government & Economic Development and Government

Sewage overflow in Geist prompts state notice to utility

April 18, 2013

An investigation by state officials has turned up possible environmental-rule violations by a Fishers-based utility company related to a December sewage overflow in an upscale Geist Reservoir neighborhood.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management on March 12 notified Hamilton-Southeastern Utilities Inc., which is responsible for the sewage system in the Intracoastal at Geist subdivision, of the possible violations.

On Dec. 22, sewage spewed from a manhole at Bowline Road and Florida Road onto the streets of the ritzy subdivision, according to the notice. Real estate listings in the neighborhood range from $300,000 to $500,000.

“There was sewage flowing out of the manhole at the [site] and into a residential yard and into the storm drain that empties into nearby Geist Reservoir,” IDEM officials wrote in the March 12 notice.

“Earlier, other local residents had not known it was a sewage release, but the odors were so strong it prompted a call to the Gas Utility, which resulted in an immediate response to check multiple homes for gas leaks," the notice said.

The IBJ could not reach Hamilton-Southeastern Utilities Inc. for comment before deadline.

IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed said the overflow problem may have been the result of vandalism at the site.

The state agency noted two other incidences at the same manhole site. The utility reported an overflow of approximately 1,000 gallons of sewage from the manhole site on June 18. And on Jan. 20, 2009, a power failure and a malfunctioning backup battery caused a 25,000-gallon spill—the equivalent of about three fuel tanker trucks.

Sneed said the state wasn’t worried about the sewage getting into the reservoir because it would have become diluted by the time it reached the water.

Sneed said Hamilton-Southeastern Utilities has fixed the problems, but the company still faces violations and a possible fine regarding the Dec. 22 overflow and the 2009 incident. Among the violations cited by IDEM, the company did not report the Dec. 22 spill to the state within the mandatory two-hour window.

The firm has 60 days from its receipt of the state's notice to respond.

Residents at the time of the December spill complained to IDEM that the company did not have a 24-hour emergency hotline set up, according to the notice.

 

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