John Acree of Lamac Engineering describes where transmission lines will run to the Wabash Valley Water Commission Tuesday, June 13.

MOUNT CARMEL — After several months of waiting, the Wabash Valley Water Commission has gotten preliminary results from the engineering study regarding a regional water plant.

Representatives from Mount Carmel, Grayville, Albion and Keensburg joined together Tuesday to discuss the information provided by John Acree and Mike Gill of Lamac Engineering. Abby Bacon, of USDA Rural Development, was also in attendance to share the status of the pre-development grant.

The grant has been delayed due to the federal budget, Bacon said. There are three grants waiting for approval and Bacon said all three are likely to get grant money.

Acree began by describing three potential options for the water commission to consider.

The first alternative is to build a 2.5 to 3.5 million gallons per day water treatment plant to serve all four communities. The treatment plant would be located just north of Grayville, and would use Grayville's current wells.

"This would be a surface treatment plant that is designed to treat ground water and soften ground water," Acree described.

A transmission line would have to be built from the plant to Mount Carmel and the commission would have to build a new booster pump station for both Mount Carmel and Albion.

The most difficult issue Lamac has ran into during this process is establishing right of ways. The transmission line pathway would follow an abandoned rail line from Grayville to Mount Carmel, which is owned by a number of institutions, including Norfolk Southern, Wabash Mine and Richard Vonnegut with Indiana Rails to Trails.

"He (Vonnegut) was in our office for most of the day — it was interesting," Gill said. "He is very willing to let us use the right of way — with one condition — he's really big into trails and he wants us to put like a gravel walking trail over his right of way. I said we'd do that, that's a pretty minor cost to get the right of way."

Gill has also been in touch with both Norfolk Southern and Wabash Mine, who both appeared to be on board with the potential project.

The total estimated capital cost for the first option would be $18.5 million.

Acree continued with the two other options. The second alternative would allow for each of the municipalities to complete projects individually.

Albion and Grayville would still construct a plant together, since their wells are so close to each other. Their combined treatment plant would cost an estimated $8 million. Mount Carmel would also build its own treatment plant, also at an estimated $8 million. A transmission line from Mount Carmel to Keensburg would cost an estimated half a million dollars.

Water commissioners choose the third alternative, which would just built a water treatment plant for a little over $10 million. Each municipality would have to come up with a way to pay for to get the treated water to their communities. 

Acree emphasized that the first option would prevent any debt from being added to the municipalities' books. Commission Chairman Justin Dulgar said the third option wasn't even viable for the city of Mount Carmel.

Regardless of which path the Wabash Valley Water Commission chooses, each community will have to do something to fix their broken systems in the not-so-distant future.

Acree and Gill said that depending on when the project is approved and the amount of time it takes to get grants, construction on any project would not even happen for another two years.

No decisions were made during Tuesday's meeting, but the commission will meet again June 27 at Mount Carmel City Hall to discuss which option they would like Lamac to pursue.

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