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Macomb mayor: New water treatment plant running a bit behind schedule

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Rich Egger
Macomb currently gets 60% - 70% of its water from Spring Lake. The rest comes from a deep well. Once the new water treatment plant is built, all of the city’s water will come from deep wells.

The city proposes building the facility in the vacant field at the northwest corner of Grant and Ward streets. Mayor Mike Inman said the bid for drilling a test well at the site came in considerably higher than anticipated.

“That probably set us back maybe six months. And then we’re optimistic that once we are to the point where we’re awarding bids and letting contracts that we can get something that is done in an efficient manner - always when we’re looking at construction projects,” Inman said.

The mayor said the original engineering estimate for drilling the test well was $800,000. The city solicited six companies but received just one bid. It was for $950,000. Four of the other companies said they did not bid because the timeline for the drilling was too short.

The city then extended the timeline, rebid the project, and still received just a single bid, this time for $850,000.

The city is estimating that construction can begin early in 2025 and be completed by the summer of 2027.

The new facility will replace the aging current water plant in Glenwood Park. It dates back to the 1920s and sits in a flood plain.

The estimated cost of the new plant is $23.3 million. It would include five wells, four reverse osmosis units, 1.5 million gallons of ground storage, and other features.

The city is applying for a loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to pay for the project. The city said it qualifies for a small community loan rate of 0.93%. That’s the current rate – it could change on July 1, 2023.

The city also believes it will qualify for partial principal forgiveness of $1,250,000.

The city plans to raise residential water rates over the next five years to generate the money for repaying the loan.

Public hearing on the plant

During a public hearing on the water treatment facility held Monday night, Public Works Director Alice Ohrtmann said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has reviewed the city’s plan to determine its compliance with the Illinois Endangered Species Act, the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act, and the Illinois Wetlands Act.

“And no negative impacts are expected due to this project,” Ohrtmann said, adding the Illinois Historic Preservation Office anticipates no negative impacts to historical or archeological resources.

However, the Osage Nation has asked for a cultural resources survey to be done. Ohrtmann said that is currently underway.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.