President Obama is pushing for an “economic stimulus” package that reportedly includes provisions for green energy projects.  I can think of few better investments of taxpayer dollars than in hydroelectric, solar and wind energy projects that will reduce our dependence on dwindling supplies of carbon-emitting fossil fuels, fuels that are often wrested via socially and environmentally reprehensible means.


South Bend, which made a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint, recognized the potential of hydroelectric energy and had begun to re-visit plans for a hydroelectric generator on the dam at Century Center.  Initially proposed and designed by Lawson-Fisher Associates in the 1980’s, a hydro generator would generate construction and maintenance jobs for green energy powered by the St Joe River.


At this time, an updated feasibility study needs to be completed.  The city sought partners in financing the feasibility study, partners who would also be interested in adding green energy to their portfolios.  Gary Gilot, Public Works Director for the city of South Bend, reported he has had “encouraging conversations with key Notre Dame staff” regarding funding for the feasibility study for the hydro generator.  James Mazurek, Director of Sustainability at the University of Notre Dame, concurred he has met with Mr. Gilot and that he will be meeting with the University’s Executive Vice President later this month to determine if funding for an updated design study of the hydro generator can be secured.



Hydro Generator for Dam at Century Center Part of Request as City Seeks Feasibility Study Assistance



In response to my question about tapping President Obama’s economic stimulus plan for funding for South Bend’s hydroelectric generator, Mr. Gilot reported he had drafted an “Economic Stimulus” request package, which South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke shared with our legislative delegation.  The overall request would stimulate the local economy with a $187 million investment in public infrastructure and creating nearly 3,000 construction trades jobs.  The request package includes:



·        $12 million for a hydroelectric project on the municipal dam that could produce 1.8 megawatts of power to reduce energy bills by $1.5 million per year.


·         A demonstration project for a wind turbine farm coop at $ 1 million.


·        About $12 million worth of combined sewer overflow projects in the City’s long-term control plan to separate storm and sanitary sewers to reach EPA mandates.


·        Improvements totaling $10 million at the Wastewater Treatment Plant to maximize wet weather flow and improve energy processing.


·        Installation of smart valves for $8 million to make the City’s CSOnet to fully control sewer system functions in real-time.


·        Creation of a $2 million(2 year at $ 1million/year) fund of seed capital for green projects, including green roofs, LEED-certified buildings, porous pavement, alternative fuel fleets, etc.


·        Restoration of the Bowman Creek watershed to revitalize an economically-challenged neighborhood $5 million.


·        Improvements to Howard Park in support of the East Bank Village master plan at $ 5 million.


·        Storm water reclamation project at Erskine Golf Course. The retention areas and water features on the golf course could run as high as $2,000,000.         


·        East Race Waterway renovations. Upgrades consisting of lighting and fence replacements. We would also replace the main head gates and all related equipment. Activate the hydro, major repairs to the pedestrian bridge, and replace the existing obstacle molds. The cost to do these repairs will be $600,000.  Concrete channel and wall improvements along the channel would be another $2,000,000.


·        Animal Care and Control Facility – a new 11,888 Sq ft facility.  The current shelter is over 100 years old and inadequate.  The increased size (8,752sf) allows  more pets for adoption. Increase dog kennels from 19 to 74 and cat cages from 32 to 112.  This will decrease the number of animals being euthanized. The project is ready to bid and construct. The shelter will be located on property currently owned by the City with adaptive reuse of an existing vacant  building.  The new shelter will have the newest innovations and expectations for a modern animal care & control facility (spay-neuter clinic, expanded lobby, reception area, an adoption preparation area (bathe and groom), 2 interaction rooms for families to meet with prospective pets, a confined area to unload animals from vehicles, secure area for the quarantine of bite cases and aggressive animals, treatment area for sick and injured animals, a secured area that is protected from the elements for after-hours drop-offs, and a training/meeting room to bring in accredited education).