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New Middletown plant effluent could spoil Buck Creek, some say

Opposition to a sewage treatment system in New Middletown has erupted largely out of fears the effluent would pollute nearby Buck Creek, described as a pristine waterway and one of Harrison County’s most valuable resources.
‘Buck Creek is just an unbelievably amazing resource in Harrison County,’ Michael Bailey of Central told the Harrison County Council Monday night. ‘My family lives in that creek in the summer.’
The former Congressional candidate and others urged county officials to withhold funding unless the treated water is rerouted, possibly into Little Indian Creek to the north. That creek, opponents said, already carries treated water from Lanesville.
Those and other comments were also made Saturday at a special session of the Harrison County Board of Commissioners.
At that meeting, the commissioners forwarded New Middletown’s request for $533,000 to the council to allow it to apply for a $430,000 state grant, which must be completed by April 1. The action was not unanimous.
Commissioner James Goldman said he could not second Jim Heitkemper’s motion to ask for the funds because sewage treatment at Milltown should be a higher priority.
‘The old board (at Milltown) misguided us,’ he said, adding that environmental officials have said the town’s wastewater is improperly treated and the effluent is polluting Blue River. ‘We are contaminating a river right now, but there is no documentation that we’re polluting Binkley Cave,’ Goldman said of the underground passage that’s thought to run from Corydon to New Middletown and beyond.
‘Milltown is ready to come in and ask for $700,000 to $1 million. I have to look at priorities,’ Goldman said.
Heitkemper said Milltown may be in the planning stages, but New Middletown is ready to proceed. ‘They are on the table,’ Heitkemper said. ‘I think we should do our part.’
Commission chair J.R. Eckart said, ‘James’ comments are well taken.’ He said while Milltown has probably been in compliance just enough to ‘get by,’ now that there’s riverboat revenue to work with, ‘we’re constantly juggling that back and forth.’
At New Middletown, Eckart said, ‘The effluent needs to be addressed before we get to the construction stage.’
The discharge site can be changed later, when the time comes for regulatory permits, but first funding must be secured, Eckart said.
He seconded Heitkemper’s motion to ask the council for the money.
That request was made at the council’s planning session Monday night, but no action was taken. The request will be advertised for the March 14 meeting, Davis said.
Other residents besides Bailey who spoke in opposition to the plan at the Saturday or Monday meetings included Alton Haycraft, Larry Brown, Randy Brown, Jerry Hunter and Randy Hunter.
In addition to his comments, Randy Hunter submitted a petition against the project signed by 36 residents who are opposed to wastewater being discharged in Buck Creek.

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