The is moving ahead with plans to replace or loop about 20,000 feet of water main below Boulder Hill. And depending on how they choose to fund it, the estimated $7.8 million project could be completed by mid-2014 or mid-2015.
At Monday’s Village Board meeting, Engineer Pete Wallers unveiled an estimated timeline for both the project, and the water rate study that would determine how to fund it. Wallers has identified 30 different sections of main beneath three specific areas of Boulder Hill, constituting about 12.5 percent of the full system, for replacement or upgrading.
The goal is to permanently alleviate the rusty water problems Boulder Hill residents have been experiencing for years. The rust issues took center stage recently, when one of the village’s wells – Well #14, on the west side – went offline. Village staff had to start pumping water to Boulder Hill from other wells, and the change in direction shook loose rust deposits that had built up in the pipes.
Well #14 was fixed in January, but additional repairs to the main plant on Knell Road necessitated taking that facility offline the same month, and it was not put back into service until March. Boulder Hill residents have reported improved water quality since then, but the persistent rust deposits remain, and Wallers and Director Mike Pubentz believe the problem is in the pipes.
Wallers suggested the village perform preliminary engineering work on the Boulder Hill project at the same time as the rate study—between May and September of this year. He said the engineering work would allow him to come up with more exact cost estimates, which can then be worked into the rate study.
Wallers said there are two possible ways to pay for the project. The village can raise water rates for Boulder Hill residents – last month, he estimated that increase at about $2.50 per 1,000 gallons used, but the water rate study would provide a more exact amount. Or, he said, the village could take out a low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Wallers said the village has already submitted a preliminary application for that loan. But the amount of paperwork involved in the IEPA approval process would set the project back almost a year – the project would wrap up in June 2015, as opposed to the June 2014 completion date estimated for a traditional funding method, Wallers said.
Boulder Hill residents have been paying more for water service since the village took over the system – this year they will pay $6.03 per 1,000 gallons, while Montgomery residents will pay $4.90 – because, Wallers said, the operational cost of Boulder Hill water is more. This includes the frequent water main breaks in Boulder Hill – sometimes two to three times the number of breaks in Montgomery.
Trustees praised Wallers for putting together an aggressive timeline to address the rust issues in Boulder Hill. Trustee Pete Heinz said Wallers was “on the right track,” and Trustee Bill Keck said this is the long-term solution he was hoping for.
“This will solve this once and for all, with no doubts,” he said.
Trustees on Monday also unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, a $20.6 million spending plan that estimates about $3 million less in revenue from FY 2012. It’s the first time since 2007 that all six trustees have voted for the annual budget.
Trustee Andy Kaczmarek cast the only dissenting vote on the 2013 salary schedule, saying that the village “needs to draw the line and stop increasing salaries.” The 2013 schedule only affects non-union employees, who will receive a two-percent increase across the board.