Water Treatment, Billing Issues Linger for Village

By Jeremy Coumbes on February 6, 2023 at 10:11am

Struggles continue for the Village of South Jacksonville when it comes to drinking water.

The Board of Trustees were updated on a number of utility issues during their meeting Thursday night despite the absence of Superintendent Brian English who was instead tending to a problem at the village’s water treatment plant near Oxville.

Village President Dick Samples said early on, they had feared the village would have to go back to using water provided by the City of Jacksonville. Following the meeting, he said they were able to dodge that bullet.

This equipment down there is twenty years old and gets used heartily. Consequently, the motherboard on one of the computers got fried on one of the computers, so [Brian] was down there trying to override it and he did get us back on. So we didn’t have to go to the city’s water supply.”

The village had been on the city’s water supply since the middle of October after problems were discovered with pumps and other equipment at the plant forcing the shutdown. The village was able to begin treating its own water in late January.

During the discussion, one resident in attendance asked if the village can ensure that the water coming from the plant will be of the same quality as water from the Jacksonville treatment plant. He said after the village was back on its own system, he began seeing rust-colored rings in his toilet bowl once again.

Samples says a portion of the treatment process has not been fully utilized for a number of years, and they are working to get that piece of the system back up and running.

We have a treatment plant that makes the water softer and it’s sitting right underneath the water tower and it hadn’t been utilized in, I don’t know, at least five years. We have a date set up for next week, a guy is coming in to show us how to hook everything up and make it work and go on from there so we should have softer water in the very very near future.”

Samples says discussion remains ongoing as to if the village will raise water and sewer rates in the near future. During committee of the whole one week prior, the board agreed that the rates will need to be reviewed after the City of Jacksonville notified the village of an increase this year.

The Village of South Jacksonville has its own water treatment plant but relies on the city’s wastewater treatment plant for its sewer needs.

Also discussed was a recent issue with billing as some residents have reported receiving water bills with eye-popping amounts due. Fire Chief Richard Evans Jr. said his last water bill stated an amount due of more than $220,000.00.

Samples says the issue arose as the village transitions from the old water meters to the new electronic meters that can be read remotely. He says anyone who received one of these bills should call or come into Village Hall and it will be corrected right away.

Samples says part of the issue is having so many old version meters still out on the system. He says they still have more than 200 in the village that needs to be updated. He asks residents who are still on the old water meters to please contact village hall and set up a time that it can be updated.