Yorkville’s water bill rises another $18 million for tapping into Lake Michigan

The water tower in Yorkville's Bristol Bay subdivision

YORKVILLE – The water bill for Yorkville’s switch to Lake Michigan continues to rise.

Over the next five years, the city of Yorkville will need to complete a $17 million to $18 million engineering project to replace old, leaky water mains, if it is to receive a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to tap into the lake.

That’s on top of the $98 million-and-growing cost of building a pipeline and supporting facilities to bring lake water to Yorkville.

The city has already begun a series of phased-in water rate increases designed to help finance the major infrastucture project.

By 2030, the typical Yorkville household may be expected to pay nearly $100 per month for water, about double the current rate.

After pumping water from wells, treating the supply and putting it into the distribution system, the city is losing 14% of that water through leaking pipes.

In order to obtain the permit from IDNR the city must reduce its water loss-rate to less than 10%.

And it must maintain that rate, or be faced with mandatory improvement projects imposed by IDNR.

That’s from a report that city engineering consultant Brad Sanderson delivered to the Yorkville City Council on Jan. 11.

A year before Lake Michigan water begins flowing through the pipeline to Yorkville, the city will need to demonstrate that it has reduced loss from leaks in the system to less than 10%, Sanderson said.

“We need a clear water audit a year in advance before connecting to Lake Michigan,” Sanderson said.

Afterwards, the city will be required to perform an annual audit of the city’s distribution system.

The water main replacement project will involve pre-1970s pipes, primarily in the older neighborhoods of the central portion of the city.

City Administrator Bart Olson said plans are being made for financing the infrastructure costs.

Olson outlined various possibilities for the council, including state and federal loans or selling bonds.

“We anticipate that the funding plan will materialize in a few months as we talk to different entities,” Olson said.

Yorkville, Montgomery and Oswego are joining the DuPage Water Commission to tap into Lake Michigan.

After months of investigation and deliberation, all three municipalities decided late in 2021 to connect with the DuPage system, rather than tapping into the Fox River or to use other sources to access Lake Michigan water.

The new water source is needed because the aquifer supplying the wells now used by the three communities is being depleted at a rapid pace.

The Illinois State Water Survey reports that without taking action, the three communities would be at “severe risk” of meeting water demand by 2050.

Projections remain fluid, but it appears Yorkville residents could be drawing Lake Michigan water from their taps as early as 2027 or 2028.

The new pipeline will extend from Naperville to Yorkville, connecting up with Oswego and Montgomery on the way.

There is not only the pipeline itself, but construction of water storage tanks to comply with a city of Chicago requirement to have enough storage capacity for a two-day supply of water in case of supply disruptions.

The pipeline will enter Yorkville at two locations. Ground storage tanks will be constructed near the existing water tower in the Grande Reserve subdivision and close to the tower in the Raintree Village neighborhood near Yorkville Middle School.