Homer board sets meeting to finalize 1 deal with Sunrise Coal

Homer board sets meeting to finalize 1 deal with Sunrise Coal

HOMER — The Homer Village Board's water committee is scheduled to meet Thursday night in hopes of finalizing details of an agreement with Sunrise Coal for treated water and sewer services only, but not raw water.

Homer Mayor David Lucas said there are just a few remaining issues that the committee will discuss before attorneys create a final draft that will most likely be considered by the full village board at its next regular meeting.

The water committee meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the village hall, 500 E. Second St..

The village board is addressing the request from Sunrise Coal for treated water separately from the request for raw water, which won't be discussed until the board's Jan. 14 meeting, according to Lucas.

Sunrise Coal, based in Terre Haute, Ind., has requested that Homer provide the company's proposed Bulldog coal mine in Vermilion County with drinking water and sewer services as well as hundreds of thousands of gallons per day of raw water that would be used in the underground mining operation.

The raw-water request has raised concern from Champaign County residents, including some in the Homer area, that providing that much water to the mine could negatively affect whatever water source is used.

Village officials have indicated that the sources that would be considered are the village's northern underground wells, new wells in that same area or the nearby Salt Fork River.

Lucas said the remaining issues on the contract for treated water include pricing per thousand gallons, water quantity — high and low — and the term of the contract.

Initially, the coal mine had requested a 50-year term, and the village wanted a shorter length on advice from its special counsel.

Lucas said the current draft is for a 30-year agreement. Lucas said Sunrise officials indicated that's the anticipated life of the coal reserve.

Lucas said another issue is assignability of the contract, meaning both sides want the terms to remain intact if Sunrise were to sell the mine.

The board is pursuing two separate agreements with Sunrise, one for treated water and sewer services and another for the raw water.

On Thursday, the water committee will be discussing an agreement for treated water only.

Lucas said he anticipates a final draft of the contract being considered at the full board's next meeting Jan. 14. Also at that meeting, he anticipates the board deciding its next step on the raw-water request.

He said the board will decide whether it wants to move forward and consider an agreement for raw water and have a special meeting.

But, Lucas said, moving forward with the first agreement does not lock the village into meeting the raw-water request.

"One does not lock us into a decision on another," he said.