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Local News

Commissioner urges Joliet limit its water options to Lake Michigan

City plans to make water decision by end of year

Blue pipes line the walls of the Joliet Water Treatment Facility on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Joliet, Ill.
Blue pipes line the walls of the Joliet Water Treatment Facility on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Joliet, Ill.

A member of the city’s Environmental Commission is advocating fast-forwarding the city’s water search and considering Lake Michigan only as an option.

The city’s Environmental Commission is in the process of reviewing options for a future water source in light of declining aquifer supplies. A member of the commission appeared before the City Council last week and suggested that the council give direction to consider only Lake Michigan as a water supply.

Commissioner John Hertko referred to an April joint meeting of the commission and City Council in which he said it appeared there was a council consensus to pursue Lake Michigan water.

“What was important is that Joliet control its destiny on a water supply,” Hertko told the council at its Monday meeting. “Looking at all the facts that were accumulated over a year, it looked like Lake Michigan was the logical choice.”

Hertko made the same case to the Environmental Commission at its meeting earlier this month. But a majority of commission members said it was too early to begin ruling out water options.

The commission also is looking at the Kankakee and Illinois rivers as potential water suppliers.

Going to Lake Michigan also includes at least three options, depending on which agency Joliet selects to supply lake water.

Joliet Utilities Director Allison Swisher, the staff member overseeing the city’s water search, said more information needs to be collected, including the costs of the different options.

“Many people indicated control was important,” Swisher said of the April joint meeting. “But other factors such as cost and being able to maintain the schedule were also important.”

The city wants to have a new water source in place by 2030, a year in which the aquifer now being used is expected to run dry.

Swisher suggested that another joint meeting be held for the environmental commission in light of Hertko’s comments.

The city plans to choose its next water source by the end of the year and has yet to put an estimated price tag on the cost.

Three primary options have been considered for Lake Michigan water: the city of Chicago, DuPage Water Commission, and the Southland Water Agency. There have been suggestions the city could build its own pipeline to Lake Michigan to draw water.

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