Joliet Pursues Both Chicago & Indiana as Water Suppliers

Jan. 8, 2020

The Joliet City Council has voted to pursue both Chicago and Indiana as potential water suppliers.

The Joliet City Council modified its Lake Michigan water plan, choosing to consider both Chicago and Indiana as options.

The council vote on water plans is a slight change from the recommendation it received from the Environmental Commission, which recommended that Joliet pursue an Indiana pipeline as Plan A and consider buying water from the city of Chicago as Plan B, reported the Herald-News.

Joliet Interim City Manager Steve Jones said the deep aquifer that Joliet and surrounding communities get their water from will be unusable by 2030.

"This is something we want to get right. We want to do this once. We don’t want to have to reexamine this in 20 or 30 years as to whether this was the right decision,” said Jones.

Even under this proposal, Joliet will continue negotiating with Chicago as a potential supplier in case the Indiana plan falls through.

“I’d like to see us investigate both options simultaneously,” said council member Sherri Reardon.

 Building the pipeline to Indiana is estimated to cost between $900 million and $1.1 billion, according to the Herald-News. Using Chicago as a water supplier is estimated to cost between $500 million and $600 million.

Joliet would save money in the long run by building its own system because it would not be dependent on a supplier to get its water, according to Utilities Director Allison Swisher.

Council member Larry Hug said Joliet would lose control of its water supply if it buys from Chicago.

“Once you’re a customer, you’re always a customer,” said Hug.

Jones says Joliet would need to decide in the next year whether it would want to build a pipeline or buy water from Chicago, reported WBBM.

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Cristina Tuser