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Balancing ecology and economics at Buck Creek

Everyone wants a roof overhead, and no one wants a befouled creek trickling near it. These are two things worth keeping in mind when considering the Buck Creek Coalition’s efforts to protect its namesake.
All sides should keep it in mind.
Sources immediately answered questions and produced official documentation whenever asked during interviews by The Corydon Democrat during the past two weeks. Even unfavorable information was offered willingly.
In the end, it appears a lot of people want what is best for New Middletown and neighboring areas, even though there is disagreement as to the course.
(Or it can be believed that there is a broad conspiracy, and I’m obviously part of it because I have condemned no one.)
Individually, septic systems can be a sound treatment solution.
Collectively, septic systems are bad. They are bad because homeowners are responsible for their proper function. They are bad because their failure can go unnoticed. Collectively, people are irresponsible.
Failed septic systems can be too costly for some to repair, and the lack of a municipal system can keep business and development out of a community.
Responsible homeowners with financial capability can ensure that septic systems work as intended. A large number of homeowners, however, will act only when a system’s failures literally rise to the surface.
If you have a septic tank, when did you last have it pumped? Why did it occur to you to do so?
New Middletown’s small lots and non-absorbant soil are poorly suited to those systems. It’s possible that raw human waste from some properties there may already be entering ground water or other freshwater sources ‘ like Buck Creek.
A better system should be pursued, one that is subject to routine maintenance and testing while being economically beneficial.
A system identical to the one at Laconia would be a tough sell, especially with the town board and system operator lining up to say it’s high maintenance and has a trial-and-error history. Simply, it has too many moving parts.
The fact that a failure of that system was able to result in E. coli being minimally treated before entering the Ohio River indicates the system was designed with a cavalier attitude toward the occasional accident. There should be concern that a system being ‘tweaked’ through was not required to have better safeguards.
The purification concept ‘ a recirculating media filter followed by ultraviolet radiation ‘ employed at Laconia does work. That is a fact. The failures of the system are engineering and mechanical. They are failures that could be addressed through the use of a central filtering unit.
Whatever system is used, a backup should be in place in case the system is overwhelmed by storm water or a malfunction occurs. The system should never release water that fails to meet standards set by the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management.
There is something unpleasant in the thought that water once contained human waste, but we don’t seem to concern ourselves much with animal waste, nitrogen and phosphates.
The idea that water from a properly maintained treatment plant is more dangerous than the runoff from beaten down pastureland is not well-reasoned logic, and it’s not accurate.
And the black depths of a sinkhole may seem like a better place to dispose of treatment plant discharge than a running stream, but that, too, is an assumption short of fact.
A simple and inexpensive test of Buck Creek could reveal a great deal about its water quality. Why two sides would pay attorneys fees but neither would pay for a test that costs a fraction of an attorney’s hourly rate is truly baffling.
The Buck Creek Coalition should be willing to compromise and allow a system to discharge water into Buck Creek. They should not, however, have to compromise on the effectiveness and reliability of that system.