Pesotum considering water change

Pesotum considering water change

PESOTUM – Pesotum residents could soon be drinking the same water that Champaign residents drink.

Members of the Pesotum Village Board have begun talks with Illinois-American Water over the possibility of having that private company provide water to the community.

Pesotum currently operates its own water system, using water from three wells within the community.

But Mayor Scott Morris said the village's water system is aging, with most of it built in 1955, and some of the water infrastructure may need to be replaced in future years.

In addition, village board member Steve Schaefer said some residents have expressed concern over the quality of the village's water.

"Our main concern is improving the water quality," Schaefer said. "The water is smelly in some places, and we have a problem in algae."

Pesotum water operator Calvin Woodworth said the village doesn't do water softening at this time.

"And most of our residents do not have water softeners," Morris said.

Illinois-American water operations manager Barry Suits said his company intends to build a new main to bring water from Champaign to the Embarras Area Water District in Douglas County.

Illinois-American has been piping water to the Embarras area from Mattoon, but engineering manager Brent O'Neill said the company has decided to pipe water to that area from Champaign instead.

Construction of the new main is expected to begin in late July and should be completed by October, Suits said.

Since the new main will come within a quarter mile of the north side of Pesotum, Illinois-American officials approached the Pesotum Village Board about providing the community with water.

Morris said the village board has three options:

– It could sell Pesotum's entire water system to Illinois-American, with the Champaign company providing water to the community's 246 homes. Illinois-American would then be responsible for improvements to the village's water infrastructure.

O'Neill said Illinois-American would likely replace all the 2-inch water mains and many of the 4-inch water mains with 6- or 8-inch mains.

"Six- or 8-inch mains would be much better for fire protection," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said Pesotum residents would likely be charged the same water rates that Champaign residents pay, which he said is now between $21 and $24 a month.

Schafer said the average water bill right now in Pesotum is about $16 a month.

"Our rates might be a little higher than you are used to," O'Neill said. "But we think the extra cost will be worth it when you consider the quality of water we will provide."

– It could keep the Pesotum water system, but purchase water in bulk from Illinois-American from the new pipeline.

While water quality would increase, the village would be responsible for paying for any infrastructure improvements.

"At least our water will not leave residue behind in your fixtures," Suits said.

While the village could choose to sell the water system to Illinois-American at a later date under this scenario, Illinois-American Business Development Director Kevin Caveny warned that the village would likely receive less money for the plant at a later date than it would get if it sold the plant right away. He said there would be less profit in buying the system after the company was already providing Pesotum with water.

– It could do nothing.

Morris said that water quality would remain the same, but the village board would need to consider raising water rates to pay for infrastructure improvements.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Pesotum officials agreed to provide documentation about its water system to Illinois-American.

Then O'Neill will spend four weeks doing an evaluation of Pesotum's water system to determine how much it is worth and any recommendations for improving the system.

Illinois-American officials will meet again with village board members in September to discuss the various options.

Morris said it would be up to the village board to decide which option to pursue.

"As far as I'm concerned, the whole key is to provide better water for our residents, regardless of the option we go with," he said.

You can reach Tim Mitchell at (217) 351-5366 or via e-mail at tmitchel@news-gazette.com.

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