Hammond Headed to Mediation over Sanitary District Dispute
Saturday, November, 21, 2015
The Hammond Sanitary District will not be able to cancel wastewater treatment contracts with three cities, according to a decision from the Indiana State Supreme Court. Hammond filed suit to terminate the three municipal treatment contracts in 2013, and in turn, all three municipalities sued the city, claiming it had no right to cancel the contracts.
The three cities, including Griffith, Highland, and Whiting, were pleased by the decision of the Lake Superior and Indiana Appeals Courts to uphold the agreements, and the Supreme Court left these decisions in place.
City officials stated they are pleased with the court’s decision to confirm the agreement with the Hammond Sanitary District. They also look forward to continuing the relationship for years to come, and that disputes in the future can be worked out through mediation or arbitration without going to court.
Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr. said he knew the city of Hammond was “walking on thin ice…” but was hoping with the amount of money involved the city would be given a choice. He stated after the ruling was upheld, “… it’s not fair that the residents of Hammond and Munster have to pay for it all. It’s all of our water, not just Hammond’s, and they want to send their wastewater to us for next to nothing.” The mayor considers the ruling a setback, but understands the US Environment Protection Agency and its protocol is a fact of life.
The city intends to begin arbitration proceedings as soon as possible and they intend to “go into arbitration with guns blazing because we have to.”