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Public forum Thursday aims to address Joliet’s water plans, concerns

Costs range up to $1 billion and could triple water bills

Joliet is choosing a water source to replace the deep wells upon which the city now relies.
Joliet is choosing a water source to replace the deep wells upon which the city now relies.

The city will hold a public forum Thursday on its plans to switch to a new water source, a decision that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and more than double water bills.

The forum is 5 to 7 p.m. at Cantigny Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 367,
826 Horseshoe Drive.

The event begins with an open house until 5:30 p.m. A 15-minute presentation of the city plans will follow. A panel discussion of the project also is planned at 5:45 p.m. Public comment will be taken from 6:15 to 7 p.m.

Joliet has been studying water issues for the last two years and plans to make a decision in January.

Staff is recommending that the city choose between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River.

The study also has included the Kankakee River as a possible option, although staff is advising that the water flow of the river would be insufficient to accommodate growing water use in Joliet in the future.

A city water bill now about $30 a month would increase to $72 a month under one plan to draw water from the Illinois River at the Dresden Pool. Another plan to bring in water from Lake Michigan is estimated to increase the monthly water bill to $102.

Costs presented earlier this month range from $307 million, according to one plan to use the Kankakee River to as high as $1.1 billion for Joliet to build its own pipeline to Lake Michigan.

The city also is considering buying Lake Michigan water from the city of Chicago. The Illinois River option would require Joliet to build its own pipeline to the river.

Joliet launched the study for an alternative water source in light of a forecast from the Illinois State Water Survey that the aquifer now used would no longer meet the city’s needs by 2030. The city plans to have a new water system in place by that time.

Thursday’s forum is to collect public opinion on the city options.

The city Environmental Commission is slated to make a recommendation on a future water source when it meets at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 7. The Joliet City Council is expected to make a final decision Jan. 7.

More information about the water study and alternative ways to comment for residents who cannot come to the forum is available on the city’s water website, rethinkwaterjoliet.org.

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