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Article updated: 12/11/2012 4:55 PM

Prospect Heights advances toward lake water study

By Deborah Donovan

Prospect Heights will seek proposals from engineering firms for a study of the costs to extend Lake Michigan water to every home and business in the city not currently connected to a water system. Most single-family homes in the city use well water, and this has been a controversial issue in the city for years.

Aldermen decided Monday to instruct City Engineer Jim Johnson to ask for the costs of three studies.

The first would examine extending water to 385 homes in the area bounded by Camp McDonald and Palatine roads between Elmhurst and Wheeling roads. The second would then look at what's involved in adding 300 more homes west of that area. And finally the council wants a cost estimate for water service encompassing the entire city, a total of about 2,200 homes, said Mayor Nick Helmer.

The council's action was inspired by the attempts of Richard Tibbits, city treasurer and chairman of the city's water commission, to get a special service area set up that would bring water to the homes in the first area, including his own. Tibbits advanced money for an earlier study of costs.

Eventually system expansion would require infrastructure costs such as adding another water tower, which would increase the overall costs of converting, said Helmer. And citizens want to know the costs before committing to a water extension, he said.

"Not everyone is in favor of lake water," said Helmer, who made extending it to the entire city part of his 2011 campaign for election. "Some are afraid of the cost. Some say their well water is good enough. We want the citizens to decide."

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