Batavia opens valve on $4.4M water project

Work at treatment plants to get underway this spring

BATAVIA – The city of Batavia is moving ahead with plans for a major rehabilitation project at its two water treatment plants.

Work on the $4.4 million project will get underway this spring to replace or rebuild aging equipment at the water purification facilities.

“Some of the work is long overdue,” Batavia Water Superintendent Jeremy Barkei said, explaining that the new pumps, filtration equipment and other improvements will greatly increase operational efficiency in the water treatment process.

The two plants are located adjacent to each other on a single site west of Randall Road. One of the facilities processes water pumped from shallow wells, while the other handles water from wells sunk more than 1,000 feet deep into the ground.

The project will include rehabilitating the wells, Barkei said, which will involve the use of cranes to pull out the pumps and other equipment from the deep wells.

The city often issues bonds to cover the cost of big ticket public works projects, but in this case is taking a different path.

The work will be financed with a 20-year loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency at just 1.3%, City Administrator Laura Newman said.

The loan will be repaid from water revenues that the city has been gradually ramping up with modest yearly rate increases. Again this year, the water rate rose 3%, costing the typical household roughly an additional $1.18 per month.

The Batavia City Council recently approved a contract with Whittaker Construction and Excavation of downstate Earlville, the low bidder on the treatment plant project.

Barkei said work will get started this spring and is expected to be completed next year.

The Batavia Water Department’s nine employees not only operate the two treatment plants and three water towers, but also maintain more than 200 miles of water mains equipped with 1,800 valves.

The department repairs between 70 and 90 water main breaks each year, Barkei said. That range has been decreasing in recent years as the city has undertaken major water line replacement projects, such as those last year on Main Street and on South Prairie Street.