We are changing water suppliers for three reasons:
From 2012 to 2019, the City of Chicago has raised its rates by 52% and can increase them again at any time without our consent.
The City of Harvey’s water fund is in great financial distress and poorly managed, and as a result, they will want us to pay a much higher water rate. The court-appointed receiver overseeing Harvey’s water fund wants to increase our rate by 23.5%, from $4.51 to $5.57.
The City of Chicago Heights is offering to sell us water at a rate lower than we’re currently paying with guaranteed rate increases for the next 25 years.
What has the Village done so far?
In July 2019 the Village issued an RFQ for water delivery engineering design services. Four engineering firms were interviewed and Burns & McDonnell out of Kansas City (with offices in Chicago) was selected as the preferred engineering firm.
Burns & McDonnell has completed soil borings, surveys, wetland analysis, hydraulic and geotechnical analyses and is in the process of developing water quality testing procedures and a corrosion control study. Village staff and Burns and McDonnell have met with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Cook County, the Army Corps of Engineers and the IEPA to discuss their permitting and easement requirements.Village staff and Burns and McDonnell also met with the owner of the Thornton Quarry to discuss acquiring property and easement rights and the City of Hammond to discuss their water treatment methods.
Village staff has been negotiating a 25-year contract with the City of Chicago Heights and expects to bring it to the Village Board for approval within the next two months.
Where does Chicago Heights get its water? For how long?
Chicago Heights has been purchasing water from the City of Hammond since 1984.
What would Chicago Heights charge us?
The total rate would begin at $4.05 per 1,000 gallons at the time we begin to receive water from Chicago Heights, which is anticipated to be the end of 2022. Hammond’s rate to purchase water would be $2.05, and Chicago Heights’ rate to deliver the water would be $2.00.
Will Chicago Heights’ rate increase?
The total rate would increase annually by CPI with a minimum increase of 1% and a maximum increase of 3%.
Will the rate residents pay for water change?
Resident rates won’t be known until the water transmission main is constructed. It depends on the cost of construction and the financial condition of the water fund at that time.
What is the route for the water transmission line?
The connection will be made at 183rd Street and Indiana Avenue in the Village of Thornton and run northwest for 2.3 miles through the old IC railroad right-of-way in the Izaak Walton Preserve to the Village’s pumping station at Ashland Avenue and Maple Road.
Below is a comparison of the current versus new water transmission line routes from Lake Michigan.
Who will own and pay for the transmission line?
The Village of Homewood will construct, own, and maintain the line. It will be paid for from money available in the water fund.
How much will it cost?
Burns and McDonnell will provide a cost estimate after they complete the preliminary engineering work. The cost will be several million dollars.
How long is the contract with Chicago Heights?
What other municipalities get their water from Chicago Heights?
Ford Heights, Glenwood, South Chicago Heights and Thornton.
Has the Village investigated other water supply alternatives?
Yes. In 2019 the Village hired Baxter and Woodman Engineers to evaluate two alternate water suppliers, the Village of Oak Lawn and the City of Chicago Heights.The Oak Lawn option is much more costly to construct, and they would charge a higher rate than Chicago Heights. The Village also considered a proposed consortium of municipalities that would create a joint water agency to supply water but determined that this option was not financially viable and there were too many uncertainties.
How will purchasing water from Chicago Heights affect residents?
Residents won’t see any changes in the quality of water they receive. Water rates will be stable for 25 years, with nominal increases. Residents won’t be subject to high rate increases from the City of Chicago.
When will Chicago Heights begin supplying water to us?
The goal is to have water running from Chicago Heights before the Village’s contract for water with Harvey expires in December 2022.
Is water from Chicago Heights safe and reliable?
Yes. It is just as safe and reliable as the water we’ve been receiving from the City of Harvey. Chicago Heights has been receiving safe and reliable water from Hammond for 35 years. View detailed information from the Illinois Municipal League that details specific legislation regarding the safety requirements of drinking water.
How is the Village testing for water quality?
The City of Chicago and the City of Hammond treat their water slightly differently. Because of this, we will need to modify how we treat our water. To determine how our treatment should be modified, water from Hammond will be run through pipe material to simulate it running through our distribution system. Burns and McDonnell is preparing designs for a couple options on how this can be performed. These designs will be presented to the IEPA for approval. Once approved, the chosen method will be implemented and testing will be performed for several months. Water running through this system will be tested regularly under varying circumstances to determine if the water properties have changed beyond the IEPA standards for water quality. Water quality specialists and engineers from Burns and McDonnell will determine how our water treatment method should be adjusted if needed to remove any contaminants that may be found that don’t meet the IEPA standards for water quality.
Where can I find the Village’s water quality report?
Burns and McDonnell will complete 30% design engineering in April that will identify the proposed transmission main route, pipe material, construction method, booster pump station and construction cost estimate. After review by Village staff, Burns & McDonnell will proceed with further design work.
Because the transmission main will cross state owned roads at Halsted Street and Ridge Road and Cook County owned roads at Indiana Avenue and Ashland Avenue Village staff will meet with IDOT and Cook County as well as the Village of Thornton and the owner of the Thornton Quarry to secure easements, permits and land.
After the IEPA approves the method for the corrosion control study and water quality testing methods, these processes will be implemented.
When the contract with Chicago Heights is finalized the boards for the Village and Chicago Heights will approve the contract.
Once all permits are secured from the IEPA and Army Corps of Engineers Burns and McDonnell will hire contractors to begin the construction.