Residents of Brookfield, North Riverside, Lyons and LaGrange Park could see their water bills inching up later this year as the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission breaks ground to lay a new water main to supplement service from Chicago.
Village trustees in Brookfield on Monday discussed passing through to residential and business customers a 2.5-percent increase the water commission has imposed largely to fund the $17 million water main project. The Brookfield Village Board is poised to vote to increase water rates at its May 9 meeting.
North Riverside, meanwhile, is likely to wait until after the city of Chicago announces whether it intends to raise fees for water in June to determine what, if any, increase it will pass on to local water customers.
Whether the other villages will follow suit is unclear, but for the next seven years, according to water commission officials, the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission will be charging member municipalities a rate increase of 8 cents per 1,000 gallons of water in order to pay the debt service on a 20-year, low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), which is largely funding the construction of the water main.
Details are being finalized on the loan, but water commission member Ed Durec told the North Riverside Village Board on April 18 that the commission hoped it could seek bids by the end of May and begin construction later this summer. The commission is also waiting for the village of Forest Park, where a portion of the work will be done, to sign off on the project.
The 36-inch ductile iron pipe that will become the commission’s supplemental water service line won’t be located in any of its member communities. Instead, the pipe will connect with the Chicago water supply at a location the water commission has purchased at the northwest corner of Waller Avenue and Fillmore Street in Chicago.
The pipe will head directly west down Fillmore Street, through the entire width of Oak Park, and then into Forest Park, where it will connect with an existing water main at Hannah Avenue.
Robert Novotny, superintendent for the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission, said the work is expected to take about a year.
The Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission has been planning to build the supplemental main since 2014. Its primary main is a 20-inch concrete pipe built in 1938 that runs along Ogden Avenue from Cicero Avenue to Central Avenue and then west on Pershing Road, crossing the Des Plaines River three times as it cuts underneath Swan Pond in Riverside and then heads southwest along the BNSF Railroad tracks to the commission’s facility at Brookfield and McCormick avenues in Brookfield.
According to Novotny, the old water main is nearing the end of its useful life. If there’s a major break along that line or if the pipe fails at a river crossing, it could have a serious impact on water service into the commission.
The new pipe will be able to supply all of the water the commission needs in case of a failure of the old pipe or to allow the commission to interrupt service there if it needs to make repairs to the pipe.
“If we lose the [existing] pipeline, the impact would be major on the towns that get water from us,” said Novotny. “We have to protect ourselves to maintain that integrity.”
A new water main will also allow the commission to split the service and reduce the pressure on the old water main to extend its life and will be able to supply enough water to allow other municipalities, like Forest Park, Westchester and Broadview, to receive water from the commission in the future, if they choose.
In December 2015, the commission purchased about a quarter of an acre at the intersection of Waller Avenue and Fillmore Street in Chicago to make the connection for the new main and allow room for the construction of a pump station if there’s a need to increase the flow of the main in the future.
The new Fillmore Street water main will connect to an existing north/south supplementary feed the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission owns, which connects to Forest Park’s water supply.