SOUTH BEND -- Even more homeowners near a former ethanol plant have added their names to a list of people who have water or in some cases mold in their houses.
Everyone seems to agree that the best way to stop the problem of rising water near the former New Energy Corp. ethanol plant is to just turn the thing back on.
Its massive pumps once drew millions of gallons of water from the earth, keeping the water table well below homes.
But the plant is now closed, its owners are in bankruptcy court, and a restart likely won't happen any time soon.
“Our goal is to think outside of the box,” said South Bend Common Council member Oliver Davis, during a public meeting to discuss possible solutions, Wednesday evening.
The city says it needs to do some research before it can make any significant decisions about how to fix the problem, so they've drilled test holes in the ground to find out precisely how high the water has risen.
They've also reached out to groups like United Way to see if they might kick in some money to help the homeowners, but rising water caused by a closed ethanol plant doesn't really fit in the category of disaster.
“It's a pretty unique situation,” said Eric Horvath, the South Bend public works director.
Davis, who represents the affected homeowners, says he'd like to see public dollars go toward restarting at least a few of the pumps, at an estimated cost of $30,000 per month, but that has to be hammered out in bankruptcy court, and neighbors like Gracie Gomez are tired of waiting.
“For how long, for another meeting?” she questioned Horvath after the gathering.
The uncertainty continues, and so does their frustration.
In the meantime, the health department is planning mold cleaning workshops, where they'll give out free cleaning supplies and show people how to properly get rid of any spores that are growing in their homes.
Those workshops will be held next Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Rum Village Nature Center, 2626 S. Gertrude St., South Bend.