SAUK VILLAGE | Village officials want to enter into an agreement with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to obtain a low interest $5.3 million loan for improvements to the village's two water treatment plants.
Village Engineer Jim Czarnik explained to the about 40 residents who gathered Tuesday at the municipal complex that the groundwater the village pumps and treats for its public water supply is aerated, passed through an iron filter and injected with fluoride, phosphate and chlorine.
Even with this treatment, Czarnik said, there have been continued problems for many years regarding water quality. One of the village's three wells was shut down after vinyl chloride was detected in 2009.
Czarnik said that without that third well in operation, the village can barely supply the average daily flow demand of water in the village. Because of this, he said, the IEPA issued a violation notice and the Illinois attorney general has insisted the village take steps to correct the problem.
"The village is under litigation right now," Czarnik said.
He said the possibility of not being able to meet the village's water needs presents a public health and safety risk.
"If there's a fire, there's the possibility it might drain all your elevated tanks and then the only thing that's going to save us is the assistance agreements we have with the surrounding communities where they're going to come with their tanker trucks and help us out," Czarnik said.
Temporary air stripping units that were required by the attorney general's office have removed vinyl chloride below a detectable limit at the water treatment plant at 2222 E. Sauk Trail, Czarnik said.
The installation of permanent air strippers at the plant would be part of the village's roughly $5.3 million project. Czarnik said that loan would have to be paid back at an interest rate of 1.93 percent over 20 years.
Improvements also are required at the treatment plant located near the intersection of Poplar Lane and Carolina Drive in order to have the third well running again.
Work there also would include installing air strippers, along with installing a new iron removal filter and a new backup power generator.
Czarnik said the total project would bring the village's public water supply back into compliance with the sufficient removal of vinyl chloride and the ability to produce enough water to meet maximum demands. The quality of the water also would be much improved by installing iron removal filters at both plants.
The IEPA is expected to approve the project unless resident comments recorded at Tuesday's meeting or written comments submitted to the IEPA by April 12 cause a reconsideration.
If approved, it is expected the project would begin in September and be completed a year later.
Several residents expressed safety concerns about using water from the closed third well.
"Who (will) be responsible for the citizens of Sauk Village if they get sick?" asked Sid Harris, a 22-year resident of the village.
Czarnik said the IEPA is on board with treating the water with air stripping.
"According to our best scientific knowledge, reducing the concentration of the vinyl chloride to a non-detect level will prevent any sickness from happening," Czarnik said.
Residents also wanted to know the status of the village's plan to obtain water from Lake Michigan. Voters had approved a plan last year to do so.
Czarnik said that process had been started, but that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources identified a number of deficiencies, a major one being a large amount of water being lost through the village's leaking infrastructure.