SOUTH BEND -- Homeowners who live near a shuttered ethanol plant on the southwest side of town pressed city engineers, Tuesday evening, for solutions to rising water, which is now starting to seep into some nearby houses.
But the meeting, which was meant to explain what was causing the problem, did not satisfy many of those in attendance.
“I don't think they realized how bad it was,” said Delia Cobos, who said her house smells of mildew, even after cleaning it multiple times with bleach.
Cobos is one of dozens of homeowners who noticed water seeping into their houses about a month ago.
The problem arose after the nearby New Energy Corporation ethanol plant shut down. For decades, the plant drew millions of gallons of water from the earth, keeping groundwater well below basements.
With that water demand eliminated, city engineers say the water table is just rebounding to its natural level, which existed before many of the Rum Village homes were built.
“We need an answer and we need one soon,” said Cobos.
The South Bend public works department said it’ll send engineers out to look at homes which have water in them.
But a fix, for some people, could be expensive, and might involve filling in some of all of their basements to get the structures above the water level.
A lot of people at the meeting wanted to know how their homes could've been constructed on the former wetland in the first place. Didn't city planners know it might be a risky place to build?
“We have to see who is responsible, some of it’s the owners, some of it may be the builders, some of it may be who knows who,” said Oliver Davis, a member of the South Bend Common Council, who attended the meeting, “it’s a big question mark right now.”
According to Davis, a common council committee is looking into the issue, going over old records, talking to people who were in charge at the time.
In the meantime, sump pumps are running almost non-stop, because the water and the problems it brings just keep rising.