Residents packed Lake Station’s city council meeting Thursday night with concerns over brown water coming from their taps.
Public Works Superintendent Adrian Vera offered copies of water tests that showed that while the water looks unsavory, it’s not contaminated, he said.
The Dec. 20 test performed by Microbac Laboratories Inc. in Merrillville, show an absence of coliform in the water in five samples.
“We do sympathize with residents,” said Vera. “We are in the same boat. We live here and we have family here. I’m going to do my hardest to get this taken care of.”
Officials believe the problem is due to mineral sediment in the water lines.
Vera hoped that flushing hydrants neighborhood by neighborhood would clear up the water until a backup supply from Indiana American Water Co. was available.
City workers were flushing hydrants Wednesday night, east of Union Street and south of Central Avenue, when a hit-and-run motorist struck a NIPSCO pole on Indiana 51 at Riverview Park. The crash knocked out power and booster pumps in a storage tank in the water lost power so there wasn’t enough pressure to flush the hydrants.
The cash-strapped city has been besieged by water issues. Vera said there have been three water main breaks in recent weeks.
Vera said crews would be out again Thursday night flushing hydrants.
Meanwhile, a $158,000 interconnect pipe, which had to be manufactured for a water line under Burns Ditch, has arrived, Vera said. H&G Underground Utilities, in LaPorte, is assembling it and it could be installed by next week, he said.
The line was damaged by a company hired by the state to reconstruct the Ind. 51 bridge.
City attorney Mike Deppe told a resident because the city’s interconnect water line is on a state easement, it signed a hold harmless agreement that relieved the state of liability for the severed line.
Once the line is installed, the city will have a backup water supply from the water company.
“When that happens, we’re ready to rock and rock and flush the hell out of this city,” said Vera. “We can’t do it without a backup supply. It takes a lot of water.”
For now, Lake Station has its own water utility that draws water from a series of wells. It has agreed to sell its utility plant to Indiana American for $20.7 million, but the sale has been challenged in court.