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Local News

Joliet City Council shows mixed opinions on water options

Joliet City Council members last week showed mixed inclinations on whether they want the city to build its own pipeline to Lake Michigan or let Chicago do it.

Fortunately, Joliet does not plan to decide until the the end of the year which route to take.

"I'm not big with anything with Chicago," Councilman Don Dickinson said during the first of three workshop meetings the council plans to have on the subject.

The constituents Dickinson said he's talked with also are leery of connecting with Chicago's water system.

"I have a lot of residents who have talked with me. They don't want to do anything with Chicago," he said.

The anti-Chicago sentiment was not unanimous, however.

"They have definitely proven they know how to treat it," Councilman Pat Mudron said of the prospect of getting Lake Michigan water from Chicago.

Joliet plans to begin construction on one of the two options by 2025 to replace the existing deep well system by 2030.

If Joliet builds its own pipeline, it also will build its own treatment plant somewhere along the Indiana shoreline, where the city would set up an intake point for Lake Michigan water.

The cost of Joliet's own pipeline to Lake Michigan has been estimated at $1 billion-plus. According to the latest estimates, Joliet water rates would rise an estimated $56 to $68 to pay for the project over the current average of about $30 a month.

The Chicago option is estimated at $550 million to $650 million with local rates rising between $52 and $60.

"I am very concerned about the cost of construction," Councilwoman Sherri Reardon said. "I'm very concerned about the what-ifs on the Indiana side."

Crossing state borders to get water is viewed as one of the risks of the Joliet pipeline to Indiana.

Putting future water rates in the hands of the city of Chicago is seen as one of the risks in that option.

"I'm leery about tying our fate, if you're looking at this long term, with the city of Chicago," Mayor Bob O'Dekirk said.

And, O'Dekirk said, Joliet does need to look at the next water system in very long terms.

"We have to make a choice that is sustainable as long as the current system, which is over a hundred years," he said.

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