(Story sourced from the Dubois Co. Free Press)
The Jasper Utility Service Board approved repairs to the digester dome to the tune of $322,200 at the meeting last night. An inner membrane in the dome has failed allowing gas to leak into an air pocket in the outer membrane.
Jasper Wastewater installed the membranes to capture methane given off as effluent is digested in the tank. This methane is then used to provide electricity and heat to the wastewater facility. Jasper was one of the first municipalities in Indiana to install the money saving system in 1990 when the new wastewater facility was built.
The membrane was replaced in 2002 for about $85,000; the increase in price is due to inflation, new materials being used in the membranes and additional work the installer, Titan, will complete.
According to Wastewater Manager Ed Hollinden, the savings associated with the methane co-generation unit that provides the heat and electricity is about $108,000 a year. This savings will offset the cost associated with the repairs in about three years.
Utilities Manager Bud Hauersperger stated they are exploring two, possibly three funds, to pull money from to pay for the repairs. Money from the depreciation fund and the maintenance and repair fund can be used to pay for the repairs, but Hauersperger stated they are also researching whether the Sewer Plant Expansion fund can be used to pay for the repairs.
In other business, it was learned that a camera with a clear view of the Beaver Lake dam and spillway was installed on Monday. According to Mike Oeding, Jasper Gas and Water Manager, the camera was installed due to the area being a target of graffiti recently. Oeding told the Jasper Utility Service Board the camera was an extra the department had on hand.
Hauersperger also informed the board that the public meeting regarding Beaver Lake went well last week. He stated the Jasper Water Committee would meet later this month to determine whether a course of action for the city was possible to alleviate the problem. He also warned citizens using the lake to be cautious along the shorelines due to the lower water level.
Jasper Utility Service Board Chairman Wayne Schuetter took a moment to acknowledge the six utility employees that have retired in the past six months. “Since January first we have lost 217 years of experience,” Schuetter stated, “now that is a valuable asset.”
Gas and Water Manager Mike Oeding will retire this at the end of June. He has been with the city for 35 years. Wendell Toby, Electric Generation Manager, retired last month after 44 years with the city. Jim Rueber retired with 42 years; Rick Vonderheide with 37; Raphael Fleck with 39; and Wayne Hopf with 20.
Finally, Utilities Office Manager Ashley Kiefer informed the board that due to new U.S. Post Office regulations the refund checks for those customers that take part in the equal pay program with the city will be sent out separate from the June utility bills. Normally, the refunds have arrived with the June utility bills, but this year they will arrive separately within a couple weeks of customers receiving their utility bills.