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Cost of New Water Plant Could Show Up on Your Bill
The 2011 flood that left many Jacksonville residents without water for three weeks was the last straw for city officials.
"Once the flood hit that kind of pushed us in a different direction," Jacksonville Water and Sewer Department Superintendent Jack Cosner said. "You don't want to put $25 million in this plant and then have the chance of it flooding again."
The Jacksonville City Council unanimously ruled: out with the old, in with the new.
“We've been renovating this plant for the last ten years but there is only so much you can do,” Cosner said.
The 100-year-old facility is right in the line of.... water, should Lake Mauvaisterre ever overflow again.
The city needs more than $30 million to pick up and move out.
“Anywhere out of this hole in town is a good spot," Cosner said.
But there's a catch. While this low-lying area is susceptible to flooding, this is also where the city has its water mains.
“You get too far away from your water mains that are in town and then that's where the cost goes up," Cosner said.
And when the costs go up, someone has to pay.
“I would imagine that the city is going to have to borrow the money,” Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard said.
City officials are negotiating a low-interest loan program with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
As far as grants, "those are mainly for, you know, smaller communities that don't have the money to build a new plant," Ezard said.
But since Jacksonville doesn't really have the money, either part of the cost might fall on the taxpayer.
“You may have a little percentage or a percentage or two more, but I wouldn't anticipate rates drastically increasing right now or ever throughout this process," Ezard said. "If there's going to be any increase that we're not used to, I would anticipate that would be after the water plant would be constructed."
If all goes as planned, the old facility will be leveled and the new one up and running by 2016.