Several residents of the Fairmont community in Lockport Township were elated to hear that local governments were working to transfer control of its water system instead of selling it to a private company.
The tentative plan is for the township to turn over control of Fairmont’s water system to the City of Joliet with Will County helping to make needed upgrades. Fairmont residents have feared the prospect of the township selling the system to a private company and their rates possibly being raised without much public oversight.
Water company Aqua Illinois made an offer to the township a few months ago to purchase the system. Township officials feared if no other appropriate government body would take over the system, then they’d have no other option but to privatize it. The City of Lockport already said it was not interested in taking over the system.
Dozens of residents turned out to the Lockport Township Water Board meeting on Monday night. Some stood outside the township building to demonstrate their stance against selling the Fairmont water system to a private company. They held signs reading, “Choose Joliet” and “You’re holding my future in your hands.”
However, right from the start of the meeting, the township supervisor, Ron Alberico, told those in attendance that the water board would not be voting on selling the water system. For some in attendance, it was cause for a sigh of relief.
Alberico said he attended what he thought was a “very productive” meeting a little over a week before with some Will County Board members and representatives from Joliet about control of the water system.
Joliet Utilities Director Allison Swisher was at the township water board meeting Monday and said the mayor, the city manager and other Joliet officials were supportive of moving forward in taking over Fairmont’s system.
She added she was confident that the city could work with the county on drafting intergovernmental agreements and would move forward with them now that the township did not vote to privatize the system. Alberico had previously expressed concern that if the agreements did not go through, then the township might be stuck with a system they were ill-equipped to manage.
“We’ve worked with the county before on similar projects and are confident we can move forward successfully,” Swisher said.
Swisher said it would take about a month to draft the needed agreements with the county and township. Nick Palmer, chief of staff for county executive Larry Walsh, said he hoped that the county board could vote on the matter at its May or June meeting.