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$7.2 million project to link rural homeowners to Fort Wayne sewers

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 7:52 am

A $7.2 million sewer project will remove 356 northern Allen County households from failing septic systems and help Fort Wayne City Utilities continue its expansion northward in search of new customers.

In a unanimous vote, City Council approved funding Tuesday for a $1.9 million portion of the project, which will provide city sewer access to from Union Chapel Road to neighborhoods as far north as Cedar Canyon Road.

“Some of these residents have been asking for sewers for at least 10 years,” said Ric Zehr, chairman of the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District. “Some of these areas, if you drive through at the right time, the odor is overwhelming” because of septic systems.

County health officials have been pushing for homeowners to get rid of old septic systems, which can lead to sanitary problems when they fail.

Homeowners will pay for most of the project through monthly fees to the sewer district, said Matthew Wirtz, deputy director of engineering for City Utilities.

Once the project is finished, homeowners will pay the district $120 a month – about half of which will go to City Utilities – through 2026, Wirtz said. After that, the homeowners will start paying only City Utilities rates of about $57 a month, he said.

The sewer district will also own the new sewer infrastructure through 2026, and then transfer the ownership to the city once the project has been paid off, Wirtz said.

The city's $1.9 million contribution will fund the construction of a large sewer main that will allow connections to individual neighborhoods.

Wirtz said the new infrastructure – which could last 75 to 100 years – would position City Utilities to pick up thousands of potential customers in the future. Under the city's contract with the sewer district, homeowners who benefit from the project also would give up their right to prevent future annexation by the city, Wirtz said.