Beech Grove has filed a lawsuit in Marion Superior Court against Franciscan Alliance for impermissible flows of stormwater into the city’s sanitary sewer system at the former St. Francis Hospital site.
The city operates a separate sewer system that collects wastewater in specific sanitary sewers. The system also collects storm water in storm sewers. The city’s ordinances prohibit storm water from entering sanitary sewers, and violators are subject to a fine of $1,000 per day.
As set forth in the complaint, storm water on the site has been observed flowing into the sanitary sewers outside of the facilities. The buildings were vacated by Franciscan Alliance in 2012, and as a result, little to no water is utilized at the site.
A local engineering firm retained by Franciscan Alliance in 2013 determined that with the water turned off, more than 30,000 gallons of water per day were being dumped into the city’s sanitary sewer system. The exact source is unknown, said Mayor Dennis Buckley.
Despite the ordinance allowing inspectors the right to inspect such public concerns, Franciscan Alliance refused the city’s request to inspect the site until Feb. 28, 2014. As alleged in the complaint, the city and its engineers noticed water going into the sanitary sewers. They also noticed that sump pumps in the basement were pumping water into the sanitary sewers.
On April 28 the city installed flow meters due to public health and economic concerns. Water continues to flow into the sanitary sewers. The complaint also alleges that Franciscan Alliance’s discharges have caused backups of raw sewage and storm water into the basements of homes surrounding the hospital.
The city also outlined in the lawsuit its concern that potential contaminants could be transported to neighboring properties if proper precautions are not taken.
“It has always been our intention to work with Franciscan Alliance to resolve these issues,” Buckley said, “but our first obligation is to the taxpayers of Beech Grove. It is simply irresponsible to ask them to pay to treat this water and to live with raw sewage backing up in their basements while placing an undue burden on our city’s infrastructure.”