HALF-CENTURY-OLD SALEM WATER TREATMENT PLANT BEING REBUILT
June 3 groundbreaking to highlight project’s quality of life, economic development benefits
Celebrating the rebuilding of Salem’s 51-year-old Lake John Hay Water Treatment Plant, City leaders joined Washington County officials and project partners to officially break ground at the plant site on Monday, June 3.
Crediting the vital role partnerships played in the success of the project, Mayor Troy Merry explained how teamwork resulted in a well-designed, strategically funded plant that will serve the community and Washington County for the next 75 years. Indiana Congressman Trey Hollingsworth and Indiana State Senator Erin Houchin joined City leaders at the event.
“Thanks to careful planning with Clerk-Treasurer Sally Hattabaugh and our City Council and working in tandem with representatives from the USDA Rural Development, we refinanced $1.9 million and received a two percent 40-year-loan from the USDA to pay for the $15.2 million plant,” Merry explained.
According to Council President Justin Green, strategic planning went into the new plant that is designed to pump 3.0 million gallons per day (MGD).
“Our long-term financial investment in the plant means safe and clean water will continue to be delivered to a total of 17,202 water customers. The effectiveness and efficiency of the water plant will not only enhance our residents’ quality of life, but also will serve as a critically important piece of our quality of place infrastructure.
“As city and county leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure Salem and Washington County are attractive, viable options for companies to locate here and for new homeowners to live here. The Lake John Hay Water Treatment Plant is a key asset in our community’s economic development appeal,” Green said. “Our groundbreaking celebration on Monday is a win for all.”
Merry cited the invaluable role Salem rate payers served in the successful launch of the new plant’s construction.
“Salem and Washington County water customers got it. They understood that for us to continue providing safe, clean water from a modern, technologically-sound treatment plant, their rates needed to increase. With our customers’ involvement in the decision making through public meetings and sharing of information, water bills were increased from approximately $12 per month to $19 per month; an amount still far below that of other communities.
“Our residents are equal partners in this initiative, and we are grateful for their buy-in and appreciation for the need to rebuild our aging plant and make it current and modern for the benefit of the City and the County as a whole,” Merry said.
According to Wessler Engineering Drinking Water Group Head Dylan Lambermont, whose team worked with Salem leaders to evaluate options on making repairs or building a new plant, the project is set for completion in the spring of 2021 with a modern design, automated technology and a separate control room, among other efficiency-driven elements.
“Because of the forward-thinking leadership of Mayor Merry, Clerk-Treasurer Hattabaugh and the Salem City Council, led by Councilman Green, pivotal decisions were made back in 2016 to initiate this project for the community’s well-being.
“The new leadership at the time was willing to make the hard decisions that led to the progressive vision of this plant that will continue to serve the City of Salem as well as Washington County, including East Washington, Pekin and Posey Townships,” Lambermont said.
In addition to loan funding from USDA Rural Development and a Preliminary Engineering Report study from Wessler Engineering, other project partners include Mitchell & Stark Construction Co., Inc., Baker Tilly (rate consultant), Indiana Bond Bank, and Krieg DeVault LLP (outside legal counsel).
Originally built in 1968 to increase Salem’s water supply, the plant is located on two acres in the north central section of Washington County.
Local newspaper The Salem Democrat and WLKY, the CBS affiliate out of Louisville, were on hand to cover the event.