City celebrates construction of high-priority sewer project
Septic Tank Elimination Program to bring sewer service to nearly 300 homes
Mayor Ballard, Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) Director David Sherman, Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Health Department, and area residents highlighted the need to eliminate septic tanks across the city while celebrating a sewer construction project in the Bangor/Delaware neighborhood.
“Bringing sewers to residents with septic tanks is a high priority for the city,” said Mayor Ballard. “At times, some of the residents in the Bangor/Delaware neighborhood can’t flush their toilets or do a load of laundry without sewage overflowing into their yards. This is an unacceptable way of life, so we’re very excited to bring sewers to this neighborhood.”
Under the direction of Mayor Ballard, DPW has re-prioritized planned sewer projects and pushed the schedule forward to eliminate more septic tanks more quickly. The Septic Tank Elimination Program (STEP) began in 2006, and by the end of 2008, the program will have eliminated more than 2,000 septic tanks. The city anticipates bringing sewers to an additional 7,000 homes from 2009 through 2013.
“All septic systems have a limited life and eventually fail,” DPW Director David Sherman said. “Installing sanitary sewers leads to improved environmental and health conditions for neighborhoods and a better quality of life for thousands of Indianapolis residents.”
When septic systems fail, human waste leaches into groundwater, backyards and neighborhood ditches and streams. Septic systems are linked to high E. coli bacteria counts in many neighborhood streams and ditches during dry weather, when children are most likely to play in them. Some septic tank owners get their drinking water from private wells, which can be vulnerable to contamination by E. coli bacteria.
Due to septic system failure rates, the Bangor/Delaware neighborhood is a high priority area for the city. A Marion County Health Department survey of the Bangor/Delaware area found that more than 38 percent of residents had failing septic systems in need of repairs.
Project construction began in July and is scheduled for completion by May 2009, but the project currently is ahead of schedule. Residents are expected to be able to hook up to the new sewers by summer 2009.
The Bangor/Delaware STEP Project is part of the city’s water quality improvement program, which is designed to curb raw sewage overflows into rivers and streams, address chronic flooding, eliminate failing septic tanks and improve quality of life in Indianapolis neighborhoods.