CHICAGO (CBS) — The Joliet City Council has voted to tap into the city of Chicago’s drinking water supply system, to replace the southwest suburb’s nearly drained aquifer.
Joliet council members voted 7-1 on Thursday to select Chicago over Hammond, Indiana, to supply drinking water from Lake Michigan. Joliet’s existing water source is expected to dry up by 2030.READ MORE: Rolling Meadows Woman Charged With First Degree Murder After Shooting That Left Man Dead
“We are very excited to enter our new water alliance with Joliet and begin our work together to deliver clean, safe, high-quality drinking water to all our residents and businesses,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote in a tweet after Thursday night’s vote. “Access to clean, affordable water is essential to our region’s strength, and I want to extend my special thanks to Mayor Bob O’Dekirk and the entire Joliet City Council for their collaboration throughout this important and transformative process.”
Under the agreement with Chicago, Joliet would be responsible for paying for the entire $592 million to $810 million cost of construction of upgrades to the Southwest Pumping Station next to Durkin Park in the Scottsdale neighborhood, as well as a 31-mile pipeline. Construction is expected to take approximately two years.
In December, Chicago Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett told aldermen the city and Joliet also are negotiating details of improvements to Durkin Park itself, such as converting the baseball diamond into a new soccer field, or potentially even replacing the park altogether.
The proposed agreement with Joliet allows for two options; one that would provide approximately 31 million gallons of water per day for residents and businesses in Joliet, and another that would provide approximately 60 million gallons a day for Joliet and several surrounding areas that also currently rely on well water.
Chicago would then charge Joliet customers based on the cost of providing service. Bennett said the agreement would provide nearly $30 million a year in revenue for Chicago. The city is looking at a 50-year contract with Joliet, with 10-year renewals thereafter.READ MORE: Water Pressure Falls To Half Normal Levels Amid Ongoing Water Crisis In Dixmoor
“We are excited to partner with the City of Chicago. This decision gives the citizens of Joliet all the knowledge and resources of a system that purifies and distributes over 1 billion gallons of water each day to over 5.3 million residents in northeast Illinois,” Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said in a statement. “We are excited to be a leader in the development of a long-term water supply for ourselves and the region. Our future and the future of all who live here will be better because of the decisions we made today.”
Officials have estimated the deal will increase the average Joliet resident’s monthly water bill from $30.75 to between $90.75 and $100.75 per month.
Hammond was competing with Chicago to sell Joliet Lake Michigan water. According to published reports, the proposal would require construction of a 48-mile pipeline and a filtration plant in Joliet.
The Hammond proposal would cost Joliet approximately $1.2 billion, but unlike the Chicago proposal, would allow Joliet to set its own rates to supply water to customers, as well as provide a source of jobs for Joliet residents at the water filtration plant.
Now that Joliet has chosen Chicago, the Chicago City Council will have to sign off on a final agreement later this year, with design of the Chicago pipeline expected to last from 2022 to 2024, construction to begin in 2025, and water to begin flowing through the pipeline in 2030.
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