Aging sewer system leading to sinkholes, main breaks, pollution

Published: .
Updated: .

Monday night, an IFD fire engine dropped into a sinkhole more than a foot deep on the south side of town.

That wasn't the only sink hole that's opened up in the Circle City this year. There have been at least three others, each of which have big metal plates across them until they can be properly repaired.

While the sinkholes have gotten the attention, it's what you can't see underneath the pavement that could cost homeowners more money every month - the city's aging water and sewer system has led not just to sinkholes, but water main breaks and pollution.

Many of the city's sewers are more than 100 years old, according to Dan Considine with Citizens Energy Group. That's why Citizens has asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for a waste water rate increase that could cost customers $14 more every month.

"Virtually all of that funding will be used for improvements to infrastructure like this," Considine said.

The sewers haven't just caused sinkholes, though. According to Considine, they can't handle more than a quarter of an inch of rainfall at a time. When we get more than that, Considine said the system overflows into the White River and other area streams.

"We're overflowing 400 billion gallons of raw sewage into our rivers and streams every year and we're under a federal order, federal mandate to correct that problem."

The bill for a city-wide fix like that is expected to run $500 million over the next two years. Customers will find out sometime this spring how much their monthly bills will go up and when that starts.