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Coalition objects to sewer district powers

The Buck Creek Coalition is appealing the order granting the Harrison County Regional Sewer District the power to mandate sewage treatment operations.
In court papers filed yesterday in Harrison Circuit Court, Coalition spokesman Michael E. Bailey said the creation of the sewer district as it now stands grants unlimited powers to the municipal corporation, without recourse to stop pollution or accountability to the people.
‘Creation of the district is not conducive to the public health, safety, conveniences and welfare of petitioner and others similarly situated who reside along or recreate on Buck Creek,’ Bailey said in the petition.
The Buck Creek Coalition was formed last spring to stop New Middletown from discharging treated wastewater into Buck Creek. Now the coalition wants all ‘pristine’ creeks (ones that aren’t already carrying away treated wastewater) in Harrison County to be off limits to such discharge.
Bailey said yesterday the coalition isn’t trying to stop the district and would drop its petition for a stay if organizers would ‘at least seriously consider a couple of the amendments’ proposed by the coalition.
‘All they need to do is call me, and we will set up a meeting,’ Bailey said.
In court papers, the Coalition is seeking four amendments to the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management’s order establishing the sewer district:
‘ Change the number of voting board members from seven to nine, and allow the two additional members be elected by registered voters to four-year terms;
‘ Restrict the district from dumping sewage wastewater into any of the ‘pristine’ streams and rivers in Harrison County (a pristine stream as identified by the Coalition is one that does not already carry sewage system run-off);
‘ Allow county-wide referendums on major projects, allowing the public to either support or oppose the district’s plans, and
‘ Permit each township to vote for or against major sewage projects proposed for and in a township.
Bailey said Monday in a written statement that the Coalition’s amendments also protect residents from ‘being forced to pay unreasonable fees for unnecessary and costly regional sewage systems, unless, of course, the people see the need and vote to allow such systems.’
Harrison County Council Chair Gary Davis, one of several leaders who have served on a planning task force, said yesterday, ‘The only one of those amendments I would think merits consideration is possibly expanding the board, if somebody thinks that is appropriate.’
Davis said he questions whether there are any ‘pristine’ streams remaining in Harrison County and, at any rate, protecting water quality is the reason the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management establishes sewage treatment districts.
‘We haven’t even picked a project yet, so this is all premature,’ Davis said.
Attorney Richard E. Harris of Corydon, who represents the Coalition, said late yesterday morning he planned to file the papers in court that afternoon.
He will seek a stay of IDEM’s final resolution but wasn’t sure yesterday how long that would be in effect.