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Local News

Joliet votes Tuesday on $279,000 study into future water sources

Joliet is poised to take a big step in its quest for a new water source.

The City Council this week will consider a $279,000 study into the viability of switching to Lake Michigan, the Kankakee River or another source to replace the aquifer from which Joliet now draws water.

The six-month study is one of two steps needed before Joliet can make a decision – probably by the end of 2019 – on whether to move ahead with a plan to develop another water supply, said interim Utilities Director Allison Swisher.

“It really depends on what we find out in the course of the study,” Swisher said.

The study would look at the viability of alternative water sources and offer a timeline for when the current aquifer might be depleted.

Staff proposed that the city hire Aurora-based consulting engineers Crawford, Murphy & Tilly to head a team that will conduct the study.

Crawford, Murphy & Tilly is being recommended after six potential consulting teams were interviewed, according to a staff memo to the council. Nine firms had applied for the job.

The City Council on Tuesday is slated to vote on the $278,700 contract for phase one of the study.

The same firm would do a phase-two study, which would be completed by the end of 2019 and provide cost projections for developing a new water source.

“By the end of 2019, we would have a good sense of the time frame of when we would implement one of those options and what option we’d use,” Swisher said.

At a Monday workshop meeting, Swisher will make a presentation to the council on the study.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk in March 2017 appointed a citizens’ commission to study the water issue in lieu of projections that the aquifer that supplies the city with water could begin to dry up in 15 to 20 years.

In 2003, the city made plans to get water from the Kankakee River in light of findings from the Illinois State Water Survey that the aquifer was being depleted.

Instead, the city opted in 2007 to build treatments plants and continue using groundwater until at least 2027.

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