YORKVILLE – The city of Yorkville and its residents are facing what Mayor John Purcell is describing as a 100-year decision.
The community and its leaders need to determine whether to tap into Lake Michigan or the Fox River as a source of water and how to make that happen.
“I’ve told the members of the city council that this is the most critical thing we’re going to do in our time in office,” Purcell said. “We’re setting our direction for 100 years.”
That’s why city officials are hoping for a good turnout at a public open house from 5 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 19 at Yorkville City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road.
Displays at the open house will detail the five engineering options for obtaining a safe, reliable water supply to serve the community. City officials and consultants will be available both to answer questions and to get opinions from residents.
“I really want to hear what residents have to say,” the mayor said. “We want to give people an opportunity.”
There is no question that Yorkville, along with Oswego and Montgomery, must find a new source of water. Their populations are on the rise while the deep well aquifer that supplies their respective communities with water is being depleted.
In fact, the Illinois State Water Survey reports that without taking action, the three communities will be at “severe risk” of meeting water demand by 2050.
To draw water from the Fox River, Yorkville could create its own system or form a cooperative with the other two communities to build a single water treatment plant serving all three.
If the city decides to tap into Lake Michigan, it could connect with the DuPage Water Commission system, the currently forming Joliet Water Commission or the private Illinois Lake Water System which serves several communities in Will County.
Whatever option is selected, residential water bills will more than double.
“We know our rates are going to go up substantially,” Purcell said.
Jeffrey Freeman of Sugar Grove-based Engineering Enterprises, Inc. said that if the three communities use the Fox River as their source and cooperate to build a treatment plant to service them all, the economies of scale will allow for a more cost-efficient operation.
There also is a potential for savings on the connection cost if all three municipalities hook up to the DuPage system, Freeman said.
Freeman is providing consulting services to the city of Yorkville and will be available at the Oct. 19 open house to explain the various options.
Purcell: Yorkville, Montgomery, Oswego on ‘same page’
A recent straw poll among members of the Oswego Village Board showed support for joining the DuPage Water Commission.
Purcell said he believes the three communities will find a joint solution.
“I think we’re all on the same page,” Purcell said. “I’m confident we will figure out something together.”
If the communities decide on any of the Lake Michigan options, they will be required to increase their water storage capacity.
The city of Chicago mandates that Lake Michigan water customers maintain a two-day supply to be kept on hand at all times in case of a transmission disruption.
Freeman said that for Yorkville, this would mean establishing a ground tank next to the water tower at Grande Reserve on Mill Road and another next to the tower south of Route 71 near the Raintree Village development.
Based on the projected population of more than 47,000 residents by 2050, Yorkville will need to keep 8 million gallons of water on hand in order to meet the two-day storage requirement, Freeman said.
Freeman is recommending that the city connect to its new water source by 2030.
By then, the typical Yorkville household consuming 5,500 gallons a month could expect to be paying about $120 each month for water. Currently, that household receives a bill for about $46 a month.
The capital cost of establishing its own water system would be about $97 million. Yorkville’s initial cost for a cooperative system with Oswego and Montgomery would be marginally higher, at about $98 million.
The go-it-alone option could be implemented in five to seven years, while the cooperative system would take about a decade to become operational.
Connecting to the DuPage system would cost about $94 million and take four to five years to implement.
Tapping into the Joliet system would cost about $106 million and would be operational no earlier than 2030.
The capital cost for connecting to the Illinois Lake Water system has not been determined.