Georgetown to sell water to proposed coal mine

Georgetown to sell water to proposed coal mine

GEORGETOWN — City officials voted unanimously on Monday to sell up to 500,000 gallons of water a day to a proposed new coal mine near Homer.

Georgetown City Council members voted to enter into a 30-year contract with Sunrise Coal of Terre Haute, Ind., to supply production water to the proposed underground mine, which will be built near the intersection of County Roads 800 North and 100 East in Vermilion County.

Earlier this spring, the Homer Village Board agreed to supply the mine with up to 20,000 gallons of treated water a day and provide sewer services, but it declined to supply the mine with raw water. Instead, the two wells near Cayuga, Ind., that supply Georgetown with water will now provide up to 500,000 gallons of water a day to the mine to be used for washing the coal and for the mining process.

Sunrise Coal expects to need about 300,000 gallons a day for the first few years while the mine is being developed, and then up to 500,000 gallons a day after that. Under the contract, the company will pay the city the residential rate for water for the first year, and a rate for the next 29 years will be negotiated within 90 days.

The company will also pay for about $1 million in infrastructure improvements to the city's water system to get the water to the proposed mine, which will be located about 5 miles from Homer.

Suzanne Jaworowski, the communications director for Sunrise Coal, said that the new mine will employ about 300 people when it reaches full capacity.

"This is a real win-win situation," Jaworowski said. "The mine gets a reliable source of water, and the city gets revenue and some infrastructure improvements."

City council members said they had spoken with coal company officials about the deal for weeks and were pleased with the arrangements.

"This is good for Georgetown," Mayor Kay Sanders said.

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rsp wrote on June 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What's the water source that supplies the wells? 

pattsi wrote on June 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I asked the same question of Prairie Rivers Network. Here is the response.

Provided by MaryKay Solecki of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission:

The City of Georgetown began obtaining its water from groundwater in Indiana in 2003 and no longer uses Georgetown Lake, on the Little Vermilion River, as a public water supply (see p. 19 of attached pdf file - p. 3 of IEPA report).  So, presumably the water the City sells will come from their Indiana source and not the Little Vermilion River, although I'm not sure about this.  It seems that Sunrise Coal, an Indiana company, will be obtaining groundwater from Indiana via the City of Georgetown. 


A google search for Georgetown, IL. municipal water supply also provided the following info at


IURC News Release

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission                                        

302 West Washington Street, Room 306                                            

Indianapolis Indiana  46204                                                    

317.232.2297 office

317.233.1982 fax


Contact:  Mary Beth Fisher


For Immediate Release                                                                 April 10, 2002




The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission today approved a settlement agreement between the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and the city of Georgetown, Illinois that allows the municipality to provide water service in a rural part of Vermillion County, Indiana.


In Cause No. 42064, the Commissioners agree that it is in the best interest of the public to allow the city of Georgetown, Illinois to operate and provide water utility service to customers in Indiana.  The company will also enhance fire protection and provide backup water service to the city of Cayuga, Indiana.


The city of Georgetown has provided water utility service in Illinois for nearly 70 years, and serves about 1,600 customers in and around Georgetown, Illinois.  Problems with its current water source made it necessary for the company to search out alternate sources of water supply.  After exhausting efforts to find a new source in Illinois, it located an aquifer and well field in Indiana, just outside the city of Cayuga. 


In order to acquire easements along the route of the proposed transmission main, the company will offer free water taps to landowners in exchange for the easement.  The settlement agreement also establishes the rates customers will be charged for service. 


Indiana Customers

Existing Rates

Proposed Rates

Percent Increase

5000 gallons




7500 gallons







Sid Saltfork wrote on June 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm

What happens to the dirty water after the coal has been washed?  Does it all evaporate in the slurry ponds?  Will any of it be pumped into the river to travel back down to Georgetown?

Political Observer wrote on June 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Sunrise expects the Bulldog mine will also need 350,000 gallons of raw, or untreated, water per day, initially, and up to 500,000 gallons a day at full capacity, according to Suzanne Jaworowski, communications director for Sunrise. [...]

The raw water is sprayed in the underground mine to keep down coal dust, and it's used above ground to wash the coal after it's brought to the surface.

Raw coal has rock and clay attached to it when it comes to the surface, and the primary purpose of coal washing, which can require large amounts of water, is to remove the rock, clay and mineral impurities that reduce the heating value of coal and contribute to air emissions when it's burned, according to a report by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

According to Sunrise officials, its coal-washing process uses a closed-loop system in which some water is reused. Coal is brought to the surface and into a wash plant where water is added, putting the coal in a slurry form that's pumped throughout the plant in a coal-rock separation process.

About 70 percent of the washed coal is shipped to customers, and 15 percent goes to a course gob pile for permanent storage. Course gob includes the rock and other unusable material separated from the coal. The remaining 15 percent, which includes all the waste water from the plant and coal fines — powdery form of coal leftover in the process — is pumped into a slurry pond where the coal fines settle to the bottom, and the clear water is sucked out and pumped back to the wash plant for reuse.

[Excerpt above is from:]

Orbiter wrote on June 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

What a tragedy that the town of Georgetown, a mere ten years after depleting its own water supply and having to go out of state to fill their bath tubs, is now so eager to squander a half million gallons of water PER DAY from their precious wells, to support a coal mine.  A coal mine, who's coal will be pulled from the earth of Illinois and shipped overseas to China, to produce dirty electricity, to pollute the skies and lands.  So that China can have cheap electricity today, the people of Georgetown are  wasting the clean groundwater that their children will be needing tomorrow.  How very short sighted.  How sad.

yates wrote on June 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Since this water actually comes from Indiana wells, I wonder what they think about it. Taking an Indiana resource and selling it for profit. Surely Indiana signed off on this. Right...

EdRyan wrote on June 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

This is probably the first that people around Cayuga, IN have heard about this.  Well, this is the first anyone has heard of this, so things are probably about to get interesting.

Political Observer wrote on June 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Meanwhile, here's what's been going on in the reclamation process at the former Murdock coal mine: