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Macomb Plans for New Water Plant & Changes to Source of Water

Jan 22, 2021

Macomb gets 60% - 70% of its water from Spring Lake. The rest comes from a deep well. But the city administration is planning for some changes.

City Administrator Scott Coker recommends the city get all of its water from deep wells.  The plan includes construction of a new water plant that would filter water through a reverse osmosis system.

“This absolutely is necessary to move forward so that we have a reliable, good water source for our community,” Coker said during an interview with Tri States Public Radio.

He said the original structure at the current water plant dates back to the 1920s. The plant is located in Glenwood Park and sits in a flood plain. The facility uses a reverse osmosis system for the water obtained from the deep well.

Coker said he has concerns about the continued use of surface water from Spring Lake. He pointed out that extreme rain storms in recent years have washed sediment into the lake.

“(That) makes water treatment very difficult,” he said. “If we continued to use Spring Lake we would have to clean it out. That’s a multi-million dollar project. We can go a different direction.”

Coker said a facility master plan for the water plant was completed in 2017 and an updated draft was done last year.

The plan must still be approved by the city council.

Alice Ohrtmann and Scott Coker at Macomb City Hall
Credit Rich Egger

Public Works Director Alice Ohrtmann also participated in the interview. She said this project has been a high priority since she became public works director a bit more than one year ago.

“The city system is aging and we need to start planning ahead for the future water supply for Macomb,” she said.

Ohrtmann said the goal is to complete the project by 2027. She said the city must acquire the site, drill the wells, and build the plant.

The estimated cost is between $20 million and $25 million.

“We hope to fund it with an Illinois EPA loan,” Ohrtmann said. “It will (also) effect (water) rates but we haven’t gotten into the nuts and bolts of the rates yet.”

Ohrtmann said there is an aquifer under the city. She said pumping tests indicate it can provide an adequate amount of water for the community.

Ohrtmann said portions of the current plant could be used for storage, while other portions will be demolished. She said the facility will not serve as a backup plant.

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