Libertyville plans for new water tower, pump station
LIBERTYVILLE – Low water pressure and unevenly chlorinated water will soon be history for Libertyville residents.
The city hopes to alleviate those water problems afflicting the town’s residents by building a new water tower, adding a pump station and repairing water mains. The city is taking bids on the water tower and anticipates construction on it to begin later this year. The new water tower will be located near the Libertyville Fire Hall.
Unfortunately, those improvements come with a price. They are expected to cost $1 million. The city has received grants that will pay for a large chunk of it, but the town’s residents are being asked to make up the difference on their utility bills.
Libertyville residents who live in the city limits pay a base rate of $25, while residents who live outside the city limits pay a base rate of $30. They can use up to 2,000 gallons without paying anything extra, but they must pay $4.67 for every 1,000 gallons they use in excess of 2,000 gallons.
Under a new ordinance that was passed Tuesday night, the new base rates will be $30 for residents in the city limits and $35 for those outside the city. Mayor Rodney Nelson said the increases in base rates were required by the Community Development Block Grant that will fund part of the project. He said more water rate increases are on the horizon.
“We didn’t feel it was right to burden them with a huge increase all at once,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately, it affects all of us, councilors and citizens alike. We hesitate to raise rates, but it needs to happen. We will end up paying for one-quarter of the project, and we’ll do it over a 30-year span. We hope to pay it off faster than that, but that is our projected number now.”
Libertyville city clerk Karen Blakley said the council does not take raising water rates lightly.
“They know they’re raising their own rates as well,” she said. “We researched what the rates were in towns comparable to our size.”
Nelson said the water tower was built in 1970, and that many towns with water towers of that age are building new ones. One problem with the current water tower is that it’s not able to properly mix the chlorine into the water, meaning the chlorine is sometimes too weak or too strong. Nelson said the water tower no longer meets the criteria set forth by the Department of Natural Resources for mixing chlorine.
The new water tower will have mixing valves to ensure a uniform distribution of chlorine in the water. He said the new water tower also would hold more water, allowing the city to respond more easily to an emergency, such as a fire.
“The current tower is high maintenance,” Nelson added. “It’s not leaking, but it’s getting to that age where it’s hard to find parts for it.”
The new tower is a little more expensive than other modern towers but Nelson said the city will recoup the extra expense by paying less for maintenance. Since the new tower has a fiberglass liner, it will not need to be sandblasted or painted as often as towers without such a liner.
Fairfield supplies Libertyville with water through a gravity water line. Libertyville does not have a pump station, which means its water pressure is at the mercy of Fairfield residents. When Fairfield residents use a lot of water, such as in the morning or after coming home from work, Libertyville residents notice. Nelson said the addition of a pump station won’t make Libertyville independent from Fairfield, but he hopes the drop in water pressure will not be as severe.
Nelson mentioned that another infrastructure improvement the city is close to finalizing is the addition of fiber cables underground to supply the town with high-speed Internet.
“I believe it’s a worthwhile project that needs to be done to help the town grow,” he said.