City talks to South Bend residents about flooding near ethanol p - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

City talks to South Bend residents about flooding near ethanol plant


We first told you last week that ever since the South Bend Ethanol Plant shut down, residents in the area have had water seeping through their backyards, and into their basements.

Tuesday, city leaders held a meeting to explain why the problem is happening.

Engineers say the ethanol plant was pumping 1 to 2 million gallons of water a day, and now that it isn't, the water has to go somewhere.

"We have water everywhere, everywhere in the house, we are pumping the water, 24/7," says Graciela Marin, who lives three doors down from the ethanol plant.

Oscar and Graciela Marin have lived in their home near the South Bend ethanol plant for two years.

They renovated their basement to give their five children their own bedrooms.

They say they never would have bought the house, if they knew this was going to happen.

"We build some rooms downstairs for my older kids, but they can't be there because of the smell and the water and everything," says Graciela.

Graciela says her youngest child, only a year old, has been sick since the water started coming into the basement and other's say they're dealing with mold they can't get rid of.

"I bleach it and clean the mildew from the windows and the corners and three days later, mildew all over again. I mean, that's not healthy for my kids to be smelling all that mildew," says a neighbor to the ethanol plant.

Dozens of people came to hear from the city about what's happening in their homes.

Engineers say it's because the ethanol plant stopped pumping water and now the water table has risen.

But homeowners want to know, "Whom is responsible for saying, 'You  people can build 6 foot deep.'?" asks resident Peggy Tomkiewicz.

It's a complicated issue the Common Council is trying to get to the bottom of.

"I think we need a little more education, find out what was accepted from the building department and what can be done now," says Common Council member Tim Scott who chairs the utility committee.

City leaders say for now, homeowners just need to keep pumping, and it may be months before a longer term solution arises.

A city engineer at the meeting said the department's hoping come February when the ethanol plant has its bankruptcy hearing, that another potential buyer will come forward to get the plant running again and bring the water table back down.

Until then, he took the names and addresses of those who actually have water in their homes so the city can take a closer look.

In the meantime, the council plans to take up the issue at its first meeting of the new year which is at 7 pm on January 14th in the County-City building.

Council members are urging homeowners to come and again voice their concerns.

They're also hoping to get someone from the building department there.

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