Dec 11, 2019

Joliet, Illinois, Potentially Turns to Lake Michigan for Water

Joliet, Illinois, will potentially turn to Lake Michigan for water after a 6-2 vote from the Environmental Commission.

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The Environmental Commission voted on Dec. 10 to recommend that Joliet turn to Lake Michigan for water, which could cost $1 billion for a pipeline to Indiana.

The vote was 6-2 for the Indiana Intake option, which was the most expensive plan, according to the Herald-News. This plan should give Joliet more control of its own water and future rates, however.

No commissioner argued for the river options that also had been under review for the past year, reported the Herald-News

The commission voted for the Indiana Intake option as Plan A. Plan B is using the city of Chicago as a supplier of Lake Michigan water, reported the Herald-News.

“All the things we talked about tonight are the struggles with making the rivers work. Nothing has to be done with the lake,” said Commissioner Wayne Horne.

The city estimates that under the Indiana Intake plan the average monthly water bill, which is now just under $31, would increase to $98 by 2030, according to the Herald-News

Using the city of Chicago as water supplier would lower that bill by $7 to $13.

The two commissioners voting against the Indiana Intake plan, Mike Bily and Maria Rafac, favored the Chicago option.

“Joliet simply does not have the clout, resources or experience that the Chicago Department of Water Management has,” said Bily.

There is potential for Joliet could lower its costs if it becomes part of a Southland Water Agency, which wants to draw Lake Michigan water at Hammond, Indiana, and become a regional supplier. The Southland group has not developed water facilities and is still under formation, however. 

There has not appeared to be any public support for Illinois River plans, which include a proposal to draw water at a location near the Dresden Generating Station nuclear plant, reported the Herald-News

The city council is scheduled to vote Jan. 7 on which option it prefers.

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