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Page last updated on October 27, 2022 at 12:34 pm

Since we are gathered here to celebrate a plant that helps keep our waterways clean, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the nations that have relied on and been the stewards of these waterways and this land for many generations - long before our state or city were here. 


We recognize that the city of Bloomington sits on Native land. The city as well as City buildings are on the traditional homelands of the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people and we acknowledge they are past, present, and future caretakers of this land……. We also acknowledge that much of the economic progress and development in Indiana and specifically Bloomington resulted from the unpaid labor and forced servitude of People of Color - specifically enslaved African labor. …….We acknowledge that this land remains home to and a site of gathering and healing for many indigenous and other people of color and commit to the work necessary to create and promote a more equitable and just Bloomington.


Ten years before this plant became operational, Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972, clarifying our responsibility to protect and restore our waterways and our future.  For decades before this landmark legislation, America’s waters were in crisis-prone to flooding and filled with contaminants from industrial waste and sewage. Our drinking water was threatened as were wetlands, ecosystems, recreation, and the serene beauty that bodies of water offer. 


The Clean Water Act addressed these challenges head-on, setting and enforcing water quality standards, restricting pollution, and investing in wastewater treatment and better wetlands management. This landmark environmental law ordered that waterways were cleaned up, which protected not only our waterways, but our health, our economy, and our future. The primary focus of the act was the integrity of our water and the Dillman plant was built to ensure that integrity. 


The Clean Water Act told us that wastewater plants could not pollute our waterways and so this plant, which discharges to Clear Creek, the same water that flows from campus under downtown through 1,875 feet of recently reconstructed tunnel and through Switchyard Park, was built to discharge clean water. 


For fifty years the Clean Water Act has been a touchstone and a critical foundation in improving our community, state, and country. For forty years this plant and all the people who work here, past and present, have been protecting our community and our waterways. Since 1982, forty years of great public service. And 40 years of wear and tear. And 40 years of growth too. Bloomington itself is about 30,000 bigger (60%) than we were when this plant was built. Much like the recent work downtown to better accommodate water from extreme weather events, Dillman needed to expand capacity to better accommodate our grown - and growing - population. And we’re always looking to get more efficient – for direct costs, and for sustainability and climate responsibility.


People want to move here, stay here, boomerang here. They want to become part of this community and we want this community to be healthy, sustainable, and resilient. Improving the capacity of this plant complements other sustainability measures in other areas of life in Bloomington. These include our climate action plan, our commitment to multiuse paths that accommodate numerous forms of locomotion, our electric buses and expanded public transit routes, our reduced reliance on large diesel vehicles, our city bicycle pool, our reduction in energy usage at City Hall, our commitment to solar power, and many other measures.  All of these things protect our City, protect our planet, and protect our futures. This plant plays an important role in Bloomington’s multifaceted commitment to climate resilience and quality of life.  


As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Clean Water Act, and the 40th anniversary of the Dillman plant, we’re really here to celebrate the incredible refurbishment, refresh, upgrade, refinement, and improvements at this essential city plant. Over the past two years, and 23 million dollars, scores of workers – our own and contractors – have upgraded and prepared Dillman for the next 40 years.  Details to come (and see!). Transformative. Favorite words: “under budget and ahead of schedule.”  Part of Bloomington itself - a welcoming and safe community where everyone can thrive and belong - among rolling hills and clean waterways. Now VIP: Garrett Towell, Superintendent of Dillman, CBU.