Bartlett on track to get Lake Michigan water in May
Despite a harsh winter, construction of Bartlett's new receiving station for Lake Michigan water remains on track to replace the Fox River and local wells as the village's sole water source in May.
In fact, the originally estimated infrastructure cost of $43.3 million is coming in under budget, Public Works Director Dan Dinges said.
The exact date of the changeover is not set, but officials plan to hold a ceremonial valve-turning when the Lake Michigan water is first delivered to customers, he added.
The goal is May 15, when Elgin's contract to deliver the Fox River water that makes up 60 percent of Bartlett's water supply expires.
But Dinges said he doesn't expect Elgin to shut down the system on that exact day. And Bartlett still will have local wells that have long provided 40 percent of the village's water as a temporary source if the new system requires a few more days.
A pumping station, two 1.5-million-gallon storage tanks and a metering facility are being added to Bartlett's 24.5-acre public works campus as part of the change. The new equipment is 240 feet from the nearest homes and will be screened by a 10-foot-tall berm with native trees and shrubs planted on top.
As expected since December 2016, when the Bartlett village board decided to end its decadeslong arrangement with Elgin and become the 29th member of the DuPage Water Commission, water will be costlier under the new system. But monthly water bills would have been higher by May 2019, no matter which long-term option trustees had then chosen, officials said.
In 2012, Bartlett residents paid $6.36 per 1,000 gallons of water. This price remained stable for five years, an unusual length of time that likely was the result of negotiations for a new contract with Elgin being in progress, Bartlett Assistant Village Manager Scott Skrycki said.
On May 1, 2017 the rate went up to $7.64 per 1,000 gallons and then up to $9.70 on May 1, 2018. In addition to the normal increase in water costs resuming, the higher rates also reflected the construction of the new infrastructure, Skrycki said.
On May 1 of this year, the rate will increase to $11.76 per 1,000 gallons, for a total increase of $5.40 per $1,000 gallons, or 85 percent, since the village board decided to build the new system.
An increase in the quality of the water supply is expected to come with that.
While the Fox River water the village has been receiving is softened like Lake Michigan water, the supply that comes from local wells is not, Dinges said. Iron is removed from the water from shallow wells and radium is removed from the water from deep wells, but that's not the same as the softening all the village's water will soon receive, he added.
Lake Michigan water also will be less prone to infrequent algae blooms like the one that caused temporary taste and odor issues to the Fox River supply in 2016. Earlier that year, Bartlett officials had been planning to make Elgin its entire source of water. But the algae bloom coupled with Elgin's delay in completing the agreement led Bartlett to change directions.
The village plans to keep its wells operational as an emergency backup supply as long as the equipment lasts. But any need for major repairs in the future would be assessed for cost-effectiveness, Dinges said.
By then sufficient backup should be available from the interconnects Bartlett already has with Elgin, recently built with Streamwood and will also have in the near future with Hanover Park, he added.
Bartlett also will continue to use its existing elevated water towers and there may be need for another in three to five years, Dinges said.