Joliet gives notice: Water main construction pressing forward

City must reduce 29% rate of water loss

Pipes sit along West Douglas Street in Joliet. Thursday, August 4, 2022 in Joliet.

Water main construction is again coming soon, and Joliet is giving the public notice.

The city of Joliet continues a program to replace older, leaky water mains as part of an effort to reduce the amount of water being lost, which now stands at 29%.

The city recently mailed letters to residents in areas where new water mains will be installed. An open house about the project will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Eastside Wastewater Treatment Plant Administration Building, 815 Adler St.

“You are encouraged to attend to learn more about the project,” according to the letter mailed to residents. “Project representatives will be available to answer questions.”

Work is scheduled to start April 1 in some areas.

“At some point this year, we’ll have 13 projects going on simultaneously,” utilities Director Allison Swisher told the City Council on Tuesday.

Director of Public Utilities Allison Swisher presents numbers to support a water rate increase at the Joliet City Council meeting on Tuesday. Tuesday, July 19, 2022 in Joliet.

The city is staggering the projects over the course of the construction season, so not all will begin at the same time.

Swisher said that the water main program this year will affect more motorists because it will go into major streets, including Plainfield Road and Collins Street. In the downtown area, Joliet and Ottawa streets also will get new water mains.

The city is replacing all water mains built before 1970 as part of an effort to reduce the amount of water loss.

“This is being done to reduce all nonrevenue water by 2030,” Swisher said.

The city needs to reduce the current rate of 29% to 10% when it starts getting Lake Michigan water in 2030. Regulations governing the use of Lake Michigan cap municipalities at a water rate loss of 10%.

Construction workers dig up along Oakview Avenue to lay down water pipes in Joliet. Thursday, August 4, 2022 in Joliet.

Nonrevenue water is any water that goes through the city system without being paid for. Some of it is used, including water sprayed on fires by the Joliet Fire Department, which does not pay for city water. Some of it is lost because of faulty meters that may not accurately record water being used.

But most of it is believed to leak out of the system, and the city for years has been trying to locate the leaks so they can be plugged or identify which mains need to be replaced.

On Tuesday, the council approved a $423,510 contract with M.E. Simpson Co. Inc. to identify leaks and test large meters. M.E. Simpson has been providing the service since 2016.

Residents can learn more about the water main program at the city’s website, joliet.gov, by going to the public utilities page. At Joliet.gov/construction-zone, the city provides a map of project areas and will post updates as construction proceeds throughout the year.