In straw poll, Oswego Village Board voices support for acquiring water through DuPage commission

In a straw poll, Oswego Village Board members voiced support for acquiring Lake Michigan water through the DuPage Water Commission as the village’s new water source during a committee-of-the-whole meeting earlier this week.

Partnering with the DuPage Water Commission is one of three potential new water source options now under consideration by village officials. Village staff and consultants are also investigating the possibility of acquiring Lake Michigan water through a now forming Joliet Water Commission and tapping the Fox River for water through a partnership with neighboring Montgomery and Yorkville.

“Going by the total cost, if we get all three on board, from a rate impact standpoint...I just don’t see what the holdback is,” board member Brian Thomas said, adding, “Looking at the totality of the costs and rate impact down the road 10, 20, 30 years, to me there’s no other source than DuPage.”

Engineering consultants for the village presented the board with cost estimates for each of the three water source possibilities Tuesday, Oct. 5.

According to information provided by the village, the deep ground aquifer now used by the village and Montgomery and Yorkville is at risk of depletion and will be unable to meet the water needs of the three municipalities sometime between 2030 and 2050.

“No amount of conservation efforts will change this risk of depletion [of the aquifer] due to the high area demand and the comparatively slow rate of recharge within the aquifer,” according to a memo to the board from Public Works Director Jennifer Hughes and Assistant Public Works Director Utilities Timothy Zasada.

The demand for water will increase in the coming years as populations continue to rise in the three communities. Montgomery is estimated to have 42,000 residents by 2050, Oswego is projected to reach 53,853 and Yorkville is projected to reach 47,796 residents, according to information provided by the communities.

Comparing costs between the three options is the final step before each community chooses a new water source.

During Tuesday’s meeting, engineers explained that a 30% construction contingency and 20% engineering and legal costs were applied to cost estimates for each option. Cost estimates also included other considerations for a new source including: sustainability of the source, governance and operational responsibility, water quality and permitting, and internal system improvements.

Each total estimate includes the cost of regional improvements and internal system improvements. Demand from each community affects the cost that each town would pay into the total, Village Administrator Daniel DiSanto explained.

DiSanto also confirmed that estimates presented were made on the assumption that Yorkville and Montgomery chose the same option as Oswego.

Using the Fox River as an option, the presentation explained, would cost Oswego about $82.6 million in contributions to regional improvements and $30.9 million in internal system improvements for a total of about $113.6 million out of a total $297.8 million.

Using the Fox River, an option that would take 9-11 years to construct, would include a necessary intergovernmental agreement between Oswego, Montgomery and Yorkville, affecting the amount that each community would pay towards the total. As a result, the three communities would share ownership and control of the water source.

The second option, the DuPage Water Commission, would take about 4-5 years to be available for the village’s use. The subtotal of regional improvements would cost Oswego about $53.4 million and $19.7 million in internal system improvements for a total of $73.1 million in the $228.8 million overall total.

The third choice, the Joliet Water Commission, is not expected to be available prior to 2030, as it is currently being established. If this option is chosen, Oswego would pay $83.6 million in regional improvements, and $30.4 million in internal system improvements out of a total $310.4 million for the project.

Costs are still being worked out for the fourth option, Illinois American Water, though engineers confirmed that the costs are in the same “ballpark” as the other options presented.

The DuPage Water Commission, Joliet Water Commission and Illinois American Water each use water from Lake Michigan.

A glimpse was also given at how each option would affect water bills for residents. Water rates in Oswego cover treatment, maintenance, salaries, equipment, and other expenses.

As different solutions become available, engineers removed existing treatment processes from the current rate, and then applied the changed rate to what additional costs the rate would then need to cover.

Engineers explained that rates would change, depending on when they would be available to the village - DuPage is available first.

Following the presentation, board members showed support for the DuPage Water Commission option.

Discussions are set to continue among the three communities at upcoming meetings, with each expected to select a new water source by the end of the year.