South Bend looking for water; car prowls on the rise

By Scot Pearson


SOUTH BEND - At the March 9 South Bend City Council meeting the hot topic for the night was the realization that the city is in dire need of fixing their supply of city water to businesses, industry, and residents of the area.

Originally slated to be the Mayor's Report, Julie Struck set the first notable agenda item around the fact that the city of South Bend has been at supply capacity and there needs to be a plan to exercise their unused water rights on Fliess Creek.

"We are in a situation that very soon we will not have enough water," opened Mayor Struck. "We have had a large request from one of the seafood processors and we are not going to be able to meet it with out augmenting our supply."

Mayor Struck went on to outline a Plan A and a Plan B scenario, attempts to fix the future problem.

The mayor, along with the council, had been anticipating a tipping point with the city water supply, but not for the next few years. The current supply of water has been at optimum levels and cannot be increased under current "Water Rights" in use. And the city currently has a moratorium for any "new" water service currently in place.

The mayor was seeking advice from the council and was eager to get things started as a completed plan to access a new water source may take up to three years.

The council gave Mayor Struck their blessing in starting the process after they held a discussion over various plans that may gain some additional water. But in the end, it was evident that any additional plan outside of exercising the city water rights on the West and East branches of Fliess Creek (Plan A) would only Band-aid the current situation, and not provide for additional future demand, and would more than likely be more expensive in the long run.

The initial look at the project could cost the city $2 million. Mayor Struck did mention that some money could be granted for the initial stages of the access to Fliess Creek, but it was also brought out that additional filters would be required and that piece alone was an estimated $250,000.

South Bend is looking hard at the loss of water that the current city water system is experiencing, by replacing outdated meters, but they also understand that 80% of the underground infrastructure is on the average of 50 to 60 years and also needs repair. With the council's agreement, Mayor Struck will start the process to exercise the city's water rights on Fliess Creek and go after a new water source.

During Department Head Reports, South Bend Police Chief Dave Eastham advised that his department was quite busy and would be putting in a few overtime hours. The chief additionally advised that with the change in weather, pedestrians and bicyclers are on the rise, and with that, car prowls are also starting to occur more often.

"In my 30 years we have only had two cars actually broken into...but we have had many, many more car prowls," said the chief.

Chief Eastham explained that if residents would just make sure that they lock up their cars, the "prowlers" usually move on to the next open car. These are cases in which anything out in the open is taken, a purse in a seat or on the floor, items sitting on vehicle dashboards, and in most every incident, the car was left unlocked.

The next South Bend City Council meeting is scheduled for March 23, at 5:30 pm at South Bend City Hall.