City of Beech Grove files lawsuit against Franciscan Alliance over sewer system

Lawsuit claims health hazards, expenses

BEECH GROVE, Ind. - The City of Beech Grove has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the former St. Francis Hospital site over alleged violations linked to the city's sanitary sewer system.

According to the lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court, Franciscan Alliance, Inc. has allowed storm and surface water to drain into sanitary sewers outside of the former St. Francis Hospital.  

"It's a health and safety issue for everybody that lives around the hospital. Plus it's a financial burden on the city. And here we are asking people to pay a sewer bill every month that they're getting away with for free," Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley said.

Beech Grove owns and operates a separate sewer system which collects wastewater from residential and industrial users in specific sanitary sewers.  The city’s ordinances specifically prohibit storm water from entering sanitary sewers. Violators are subject to a fine of $1,000 per day, with each day’s violation constituting a separate offense, officials said.

More than 30,000 gallons of water per day were being dumped from the former St. Francis Hospital site into the city’s sanitary sewer system, the lawsuit claimed.

Beech Grove city officials claim that the sanitary sewers can become overwhelmed, leading to basement backups.  The complaint alleges that Franciscan Alliance’s impermissible discharges into the sanitary sewers can cause and has caused backups of raw sewage and storm water into the basements of homes surrounding the St. Francis Hospital area.

  "It has always been our intention to work with Franciscan Alliance to resolve these issues," Buckley said, "but our first obligation is to the taxpayers of Beech Grove.  It is simply irresponsible to ask them to pay to treat this water and to live with raw sewage backing up in their basements, while placing an undue burden on our city’s infrastructure.  We hope Franciscan Alliance is willing to do their fair share and to partner with us in resolving these very important public health and economic concerns."

On April 28, the city installed flow meters, due to public health and economic concerns.  Water continues to flow into the sanitary sewers.

To read the full complaint, click here. 

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