Home Political News What happens when sewer systems overlap?

What happens when sewer systems overlap?


Ron Bacon


What happens when sewer systems overlap? In the case of the towns of Chandler and Newburgh, for many years nothing happened. However, when a new development project came to Warrick County and posed the potential for added businesses, this previously coexisting relationship began to deteriorate.


Under current law, a municipality has the power to operate a municipal sewage works in an area within four miles outside of its corporate boundaries. The towns of Newburgh and Chandler have overlapping sewer districts within that four mile area. From 1974- 2007, the two towns both provided sewer treatment in this overlapping area that existed outside of each of the towns’ corporate limits.


In 2007, the town of Newburgh passed an ordinance stating that they have the exclusive right to furnish sewer services within this area. Within a few weeks, Chandler followed suit. Five years later, developers who were building in the overlapping area went to both towns to determine the cost of sewage services. They found that Chandler’s services were much less expensive, so they chose their services over Newburgh’s.


As a result, the town of Newburgh sued for violation of the ordinance that was passed in 2007. The case was eventually brought to the Court of Appeals where Justice Shepard ruled in Newburgh’s favor, citing the “first-in-time” rule. After all, Newburgh had been the first to pass an ordinance.  However, Justice Shepard also explained that until state code is changed, there is nothing to prevent this from happening again somewhere else. Current Indiana code does not offer any guidance on how to proceed when more than one community has the ability to provide sewage services to the same area located outside of their corporate boundaries.


As you can imagine, this legal battle has proven to be very costly and even halted development in the area. This session, I have authored House Bill (HB) 1187 to preemptively protect communities, customers and businesses across the state from being plagued by this same issue. A recent GPS study found that this same problem could occur in 300 communities statewide, meaning the potential for 150 more lawsuits.


Most importantly however, I also want to protect the approximately 1,300 constituents that live in District 75 who are impacted by this. On Thursday, January 30, HB 1187 passed the House on third reading by a vote of 85-10. This bill aims to address this problem in two main ways.


First, it provides that any ordinance expressing that a municipality has the exclusive right to provide sewage services in an area within four miles outside of their corporate boundaries cannot be enforced until May 1, 2017, if the ordinance was adopted before January 1 of this year. Second, if such an ordinance was adopted after December 31, 2013, then it will be void as a result of this legislation.


What this means is that no new ordinance could be passed claiming exclusive rights to an overlapping area. For the time being, this also means that we would be reverting back to before Newburgh’s 2007 ordinance was passed, and they would not be able to enforce their ordinance until 2017. Those who were in the overlapping area and on Chandler’s service would be able to keep their service. Essentially, this is a three year protection for Chandler and 300 other communities across the state.


My hope is that during those three years, we can continue to further study this complex issue and come up with a plan moving forward. It is clear that something must be done, however we need to make certain that our solution will be applicable in any situation.


Personally, I believe that the people in these overlapping areas should be able to choose which sewage treatment service they want to utilize and which service is the most cost-effective for them. This is by no means the final version of the bill though. It will now be sent to the Senate for further discussion.


I look forward to working with the Senate as well as officials from Chandler, Newburgh and other towns across the state to ensure that we have the best final product when we send this legislation to be signed by the governor. An issue between Chandler and Newburgh may have prompted this, but it is truly intended for the benefit of all Hoosiers in every town in Indiana.



  1. I to have Modeled sewer and stormwater drainage systems per GIS/GPS and some NOAA/USGS.Agricultural inputs.
    Basically,what I call the “boundary waters” in Indiana ,as well as, some other regions whereas ,or of,has the same issues of affect to the regionals environmental controls,as present to the planet, and its oceanic engines per national main coastal delta in-washes.

    Clearly ,HB 1187 is a well conceived first step to get things rolling/floating foreword downstream,so to speak. Pull the anchors streamline the bow,the ways a ship design would reflect that.

    [Indianas Core issue]Clean water supplies, per CSO,stormwater management,and agricultural rundown and incremental balances into Rivers and tributaries in focus as clean water management targets for compliance per the Clean water acts,as of current requirements.

    The area of concern in your local district,and the projected development there is a primary example of how this can work to improve an regional signature as a whole unit per State,not county,not village,not,corporate boundaries.

    What can work as a single farm application,can also be in the same focus.
    You will want to keep an Eye on the projected nitrogen facility upstream [Rockport] of your intakes,as well. So.

    The issue I see in focus is how three villages get together and solve the big picture,All the while themselfs,setting a “target standard and methodology” to advance the regions overall environmental footprint through planned economic growth,and logistical commerce blended with base infrastructure developments.

    Applied with demands that would as a “normal” increase the environmental Drainage basin signatures “negative” incremental balances to the Ohio basin.
    However, with an application that would “decrease” the applied units signatures,incrementally,to the present standing environmental conditionals,and increase commerce and system supplies.
    Focus for the three villages in concern would be positive growth initiatives cleaner more reliable, and thus,sustainable environmental impacts,while in supply chain applied procedures,per process water and sewer systems at an incrementally almost to the extreme, lower cost per customer.
    The plan can work anywhere,on the planet,some with more municipal benefits than others,sea level sees the most return incrementally,right now especially California and the southwest,Texas, New Orleans,the Hudson,Delaware,Savannah/Charleston,and Chesapeake basins as well as the bread basket great plains,need this.Now.

    Also,The present fuss in concern to the Keystone pipeline even becomes a non issue gimme type bunny. 😉
    Best of all,the other place we really,as a nation,need focus on,will too,find balance.
    The massive underground water resource. The Ogallala aquifer,thus Americas largest source of actual planet supplied usable waters,which is at an alarming rate,being decreased by agricultural pressures.

    Picture the bone dry California reservoirs millions of people affected,however,under the surface from the northern plains,to the southern plains. Picture that incurred and polluted as well as depleted,”not so good”..America,everybody affected.

    People,Climate Change is a scientific fact! The POTUS happens to be correct with that statement “science stands the ground” with him there,given that,I want to see this countries massive economic engine come off idle,start putting some power and torque to our planet’s environmental engine,so that can move our combined legacies forward.

    Thank you! Mr.Ron Bacon,for the House bill 1187,the boat whatever its designation to purpose might be, isn’t leaving port,until we untie the dock lines,and pull up “all the boat anchors.”

    Sometimes it takes more than one village to begin real transformation,sometimes its more than one favored person,of the elective progressions,as well.

    “I am,enough of an artist,to draw freely upon my imagination.” (Albert Einstein)

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