Work on a project intended to improve water service for customers in Hawthorn Woods continues, although there are a few more months to completion.

An above ground water tower, the most obvious part of the $2.5 million project by Aqua Illinois, has been rising steadily since March on the north side of Schwerman Road near Milton Road.

Aqua Illinois is a private water company that services about 900 customers, mostly in Hawthorn Woods, equating to about a quarter of all village residents. The rest are either on private wells or served through Lake County.

The project will provide additional water storage capacity for the growing area and improve service reliability because pressure will be provided by gravity rather than pumps, according to the company.

The work replaces an old underground structure with a 145-foot tall, 500,000 gallon elevated storage tank. That will double the amount of stored water Aqua has at any given time and provide ample water for firefighters if needed.

"The construction is a proactive measure by Aqua to ensure that we have adequate storage for the growth that is occurring in Hawthorn Woods and the adjacent areas," said Jessica Caufield, a spokesperson for Aqua.

"The project, which was budgeted for and included in Aqua's master plan, was moved up in the schedule to account for the needs of the village," she added.

About 89 percent of Aqua customers are in the village limit and the percentage is increasing, according to Caufield.

The project cost is built into Aqua's capital plan and none of its Illinois customers will see a rate increase as a result. Aqua provides water and wastewater service to about 225,000 customers in 13 counties.

Pam Newton, the village's chief operating officer, said the work is not a village project but was driven by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

According to IEPA Spokeswoman Kim Biggs, the Aqua system at one time had inadequate storage capacity. That was a addressed by a temporary pressure tank and the company committed to installing additional storage by building an elevated tank.

A water tank must be located adjacent to a water main and Aqua owns the Schwerman Road property. Several other locations were considered but property owners were not willing to provide easements or sell, according to the village.

The underground tank could provide water pressure for 10 minutes in the event of a power outage, the village said. The elevated tank will provide more than 36 hours of capacity in that instance.

IEPA will also issue an operating permit for the water storage tank when it is finished. The project is expected to be complete in November.