Ludlow begins steps for replacing water mains
LUDLOW — The village is in the preliminary stages of preparations to replace its aging water main system.
Mayor Pete Walker said an official with the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission has informed him that the village could secure 75 percent grant funding for the project, which Walker estimates would cost between $350,000 and $400,000. The village would pay for the remaining 25 percent.
The 65-year-old water mains were installed in 1949, and Walker said they are showing their age.
"We spent $12,000 last year on water main breaks," Walker said. "We were averaging about $6,000 a year. It's not getting any better. It's got to be done."
Walker, who said the village is in the "initial stages of getting a preliminary plan together," said the cast iron mains would be replaced with PVC mains.
Walker said an unlikely source has contributed to the bad condition of some of the mains — coal cinders that people used to dump in the street in the 1950s and '60s, before all of the streets were paved. He said the cinders work their way down through the ground and onto the water mains, causing them to erode.
"People would clean out their coal boxes and threw (the cinders) out in the streets," Walker said. "They didn't have great streets. Once they work their way down, they would eat their way through" the cast iron pipes.
Walker said when many water main leaks are repaired, there is evidence of coal cinders.
"We've had cases of repairing one, and before the (repair) guy got out of town, it blew 10 feet away," Walker said.
"When the fire department is filling their trucks when there is a fire, sometimes when they open the fire hydrants we have a water main break."
The mayor said the village has "a little money in reserve." If the village could secure a loan at 2 percent interest, it would have a monthly payment of $500-$600, "which we can afford," he said.
He said it would not be necessary to increase water rates.