South Jacksonville Eyeing New Water Tower, Water System Upgrades

By Benjamin Cox on November 20, 2021 at 12:27pm

The Village of South Jacksonville has a deficiency in its potable water storage. For the last five years, talks have been in the works to establish another water tower for the village due to increased water usage.

Jamie Headen, principal engineer of Benton & Associates, says that the village’s 20 year plan for the utility saw a need for another storage tank in the early 2000s. Superintendent John Green told the village board that during peak usage times in the summer, water usage in the village can sometimes top 600,000 gallons a day, which turns over the water in their current water tower at least twice.

Headen says that the village is still under current EPA regulations because of its inner connectivity with the City of Jacksonville, but it still doesn’t meet demand in case a fire emergency occurs.

Headen says that the village has 3 separate options for fixing the water storage issue: “Two options are ground storage tanks at the water plant, so we could have finished water way down at the water plant, which does support some of the rural customers’ needs a little bit. The transmission main is probably going to need some help here at some point, as well. We can have a new tank at the existing tank location. You may go to some towns and see they have two tanks right next to each other. The beauty of that is, hydraulically, they just work the same. They are just right together and the water levels are the same, double the volume or whatever the size. Or, we say we need a new tank at a new location. Maybe, you have demand somewhere south…east…wherever it is that you may need to add some storage that you’re looking to improve.”

Headen says there are currently funding options through the Illinois EPA or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development programs. Headen cautioned that the USDA grant programs come with more regulation and may end up costing the village more money in the long run. Headen says though, that currently interest rates on loans through both entities are extremely low. He says what makes the IEPA so attractive is that it does offer up to $400,000 in loan forgiveness in certain projects.

Headen estimates a new water tower, with current supply chain issues, could cost the village between $4 and $6 and a half million dollars to construct. He says that will have an impact on the village’s water customers’ utility bills: “If all you did was take the yearly principal and interest and spread it out over 1,500 customers, which it wouldn’t be exactly like that because you have to take into account the rural water demands and the other types. If that was all you did, it would be about a $10 increase per customer per month. If you say that you understand that a water tank has a useful life of probably 80 years or more, so you may want to consider a 30-year note for that at such low interest rates. You’re not going to pay a ton more interest, and you will have it paid off well before that tank has reached its useful life. If that’s the case, it would be an increase of about $7.35 per customer per month.”

Headen says coming up with a comprehensive plan for the entire system also needs to be thought over, as the wastewater treatment plant and water treatment plant are 20 years older and will start needing rehabilitation.