(La Porte, IN) - Businesses and homes outside the city of La Porte might be left without water.
Last night, the La Porte City Council voted to terminate a contract to provide water to the 39 North Conservancy District. The water will stop flowing in four years if a new service agreement is not negotiated with the city.
Conservancy District President Mark Childress said no water from the city would be devastating to the owners of businesses and homes presently served and stop that area from being further developed. More than 20 property owners formed the conservancy district in 1999. The privately financed extension of water and sewer lines to that area from the city's system was because of poor water quality and failing septic systems.
That area has seen considerable manufacturing and housing development as a result of municipal water service. The 39 North Conservancy District website advertises, “City services with county property tax. You can’t beat that!”
Ed Arnold, owner of Hampton Inn and founding member of the 39 North Conservancy District, accused the city of wanting to annex that area. Arnold said, “This was a group of citizens that tried to do the right thing to help themselves, and they were willing to foot the bill. I just don’t think it’s right the city should use their leverage to try to force their will on this group of good citizens that paid their own way."
Mayor Tom Dermody said things had reached this point because the conservancy district failed to upgrade the system. When fire hydrants are used for firefighter training, officials said customers are left without water due to lack of water capacity until the hydrants stop being used. La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said there’s a great risk of not having enough water in the event of a fire.
“I would be negligent if I didn’t stand here and not tell you there’s a life safety issue,” Snyder said.
Officials said an upgrade to the system to increase water capacity would solve the problem. Currently, the conservancy district is applying for grants to help fund the construction of a 500,000-gallon water tower to address the matter.