South Harrison Water Corp.

A Little History of South Harrison Water .....

Who we are: South Harrison Water Corp. is a membership owned, not-for-profit, potable water utility formed by a group of Harrison County residents in the early 1970's to take advantage of the government's FHA program. This program enabled a group of residents to create, fund, and install a potable drinking water system for rural residents where none existed before. Our articles of incorporation were filed with the Indiana Secretary of State on August 31, 1972.

What we do: We provide potable drinking water to 3,300 metered accounts in the rural southwestern portion of Harrison County, and a small portion of Floyd County, Indiana. We own two wells, a two million gallon per day softening/filtration plant, ten storage tanks, seven pumping stations, and about 400 miles of distribution water mains.

Who Owns Us: We are membership owned, meaning that we are owned by the customers that we serve. Our membership elects a nine member board of directors that govern the operation of the water utility. The board hires the General Manager and he hires the other employees.

Brief History: In the early stages of forming, people went door to door to sign up potential water company customers. The more people that signed up, the larger area that could be served, and the cheaper it would be to operate the system. People paid a "membership fee" to join the private corporation and signed easements to allow water line construction to occur. We still have some of the hand written lists from this time period. Many people volunteered their time to attend meetings, public hearings and lobby our elected officials. After forming a corporation in 1972 and filing articles of incorporation and bylaws with the State of Indiana, South Harrison Water Corporation was born. Robert Zimmerman from Laconia was the first official President of the Board of Directors.

On June 13, 1974 the new utility company closed a loan of $1.99 million from the Farmers Home Administration to install the system of pipes, pumps and tanks needed to provide drinking water. George Keat & Associates engineered the original water system and the main pipeline contractors were Reynolds, Butler and United Pipeline. Tanks were built by Caldwell Tank. The company went through a lot of growing pains in the early years as it learned how to pump water, bill customers, and repair leaking water mains. The first employees were hired in 1975. The first maintenance man for the water system was hired, Emmett "Gene" Stewart, and a bookkeeper was hired, Lester Melton. The President of the Board of Directors was Joy Beanblossom.

The initial water system was built from 1974-76. Over 725,000 feet of water mains were laid in this time period to install the initial system and hook on new customers. Two water wells were installed near Kintner Bottoms, a main pumping station constructed at Old Goshen, and three storage tanks were erected - Laconia 100,000 gallon elevated, Corydon 175,000 gallon standpipe, and Lanesville 100,000 gallon elevated. The water company billed 623 accounts at the end of 1975.

The water company under went a big expansion project in 1983. The $1.1 million project included an office / headquarters building in New Middletown that also included a new 525,000 gallon storage tank and a pumping station. An engineering study was completed by Robert Curry & Associates to justify the expenses and changes were made to better supply water to the customers. About 75,000 feet of new water mains were installed to reach out into areas not already served and to upgrade pumping capacity. The President of the Board of Directors in 1985 was Floyd Sonner and the Manager was Lester Melton. At the end of 1985 the water company billed 1,319 accounts.

During the 1990's the water company continued to grow adding new customers and extending lines as needed to serve new areas. The water system built in the 1970's and 80's was adequate to provide drinking water, but our customers wanted further improvements. A new water softening / filtration treatment plant was built in 1991. The plant had a capacity of one million gallons of treated water per day. A new 12" line was also laid from the wells to the new treatment plant. In 1995 the President of the Board of Directors was Paul Schneider and the Manager was Sherman Simmons. Customer growth continued and at the end of 1995 the company billed 2,110 accounts.

Another period of rapid expansion occurred from 2000 - 2005 as customer growth finally out grew the original water system. The arrival of Caesars river boat in Harrison County brought infrastructure imrovements made to serve the Chariot Run golf course. The casino also generated tax revenue to Harrison County, 35% of which was set aside for infrastructure improvements. South Harrison Water applied for these funds and also used our own monies to further upgrade our system. From 2000 to 2003 the water company built five new pumping stations, four new storage tanks, and 160,000 feet of new water mains. In 2004 the corporation assumed a $3.8 million loan from USDA RD to upgrade the backbone of our system - upgrade water wells, double treatment plant capacity, build 34,000 feet of 18" water main and erect a new 1 million gallon elevated tank. Midwestern Engineers was the engineering company during this time. During this period we also installed over 80 new fire hydrants. Steps were also taken during this time to preserve our water source and a well head protection plan was approved. Work was done with the Corps of Engineers at our wells to protect the river bank from erosion. In 2005 the President of the Board of Directors was Jack Frederick and the General Manager was Bruce Cunningham. At the end of 2005 we served 2,922 accounts.

After a devasting fire at the Norstam Veneer factory near Mauckport, South Harrison Water worked with representatives from Norstam and officials from Harrison County to install a new 12" water main to the area for fire protection. Construction of the 19,000 feet project cost $1.2 million and was completed in 2009.

A severe wind storm occured in September 2008 followed by a severe ice storm in January 2009. These two events left much of South Harrison Water's service area without electrical power for well over a week. Though we were able to keep the water on (just barely), these two storms highlighted the need for South Harrison to have emergency electrical power generators. A plan was put together and funding was secured. We installed a large generator and transfer switch at our office & pumping station. We purchased a large portable trailer mounted generator and set up 5 of our pumping stations with manual transfer switches. Finally in late 2010, we installed a very large generator and automatic transfer switch at our wells. These improvements, coupled with the generator we already had installed at our treatment plant, mean that we can now continue to operate during extended power outages.

In 2015 the President of the Board of Directors was Kenny Saulman and the General Manager was Bruce Cunningham. At the end of 2015 we served 3,215 metered accounts.

In 2017 the water company was approved for a grant from the State of Indiana for $442,000 for water main upgrades in Washington Township. The Heth Twp. Fire Dept. matched this grant with $350,000 from their own funds. This project improves fire protection services in western Heth Twp. and all of Washington Twp. The old water mains in this area are all 3 inch and 4 inch and are not capable of providing enough water for fire fighters to use. The new lines will be 6" and about 12 new fire hydrants will be installed along the route.

Over the past several years, South Harrison Water personnel installed an automated meter reading system for every customer. This system allows the collection of consistent and accurate readings once per month. This was a major investment in technology for the utility and has been very welcomed by our customers. In 2021 the President of the Board of Directors was Allen Pursell and the General Manager was Bruce Cunningham. At the end of 2021 we served 3,442 metered accounts.

After 25 years of employment, in 2022 Bruce Cunningham informed the Board of Directors he would be leaving. The board began a search for a replacment and hired Bradley "BJ" Lillpop as the new General Manager. BJ began on August 29, 2022 and Bruce stayed on for a time to help with the transition.