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Board OKs $11.7 million sewage contract

FORT WAYNE – Board of Public Works members on Wednesday approved an $11.7 million contract for more improvements at the sewage treatment plant.

The board voted unanimously to OK the agreement with Walsh Construction Co. for pump station and pond improvements. The pump station will use massive, high-speed pumps to move untreated waste across the Maumee River to storage ponds where it can be held until treated.

During rain storms, the city’s sewage system is overwhelmed with millions of gallons of rainwater and overflows into the rivers. An estimated 1 billion gallons of untreated sewage a year pollutes the city’s three rivers that way.

City officials are beginning a $35 million project to increase the capacity of the sewage plant; the pump station and storage pond improvements will allow sewage the plant can’t treat to be stored and then pumped back for treatment once the plant can handle it again.

Board members also approved an emergency resolution to replace one of the four gates at the St. Joseph Dam, which was damaged by logs in the river in recent storms. Officials hope to have a contract for the board to consider within two weeks.