LOWELL | The Town Council wants to know how much a new, shallow well will cost and where a water storage tank could be located as first steps toward increasing municipal water quantity.
"We'd like to walk out of here tonight with a plan," Council President Edgar Corns, R-5th, said as he opened Wednesday's work session to discuss the municipal water system, expectations and options.
The council learned it can expect a report within 60 days from consulting engineering firm SEH on current needs, future needs and needs based on proposed annexation.
Craig Hendrix of SEH said, "You will have decisions to make from that report."
In the meantime, Lowell Public Works Director Greg Shook was asked to get cost estimates for the installation of an additional shallow well on the water treatment plant's acreage on South Colfax Avenue.
Although the present municipal system easily can provide the average 900 gallons of water used daily, the council recognizes another water source will be needed to meet the demands planned growth would bring.
"A million (gallons daily) is about all we can do well," Shook said.
Sinking another shallow well could possibly "carry us another year or two," he said.
Shook explained two deep wells at the plant site are not used in tandem, except in the case of emergencies, because each is high in naturally occurring fluoride and hydrogen sulfide.
Shook said the town's system includes 600 gallons of water stored at the plant, plus 200,000 gallons of storage capacity in each of two water towers.
Hendrix said increasing storage capacity by installing a half-million gallon, above-ground storage tank with a pumping station is a good idea.
Councilman Craig Earley, D-1st, said 17 acres the council has eyed for a new street department facility would be large enough to site a storage tank.
Shook said, however, that property is in a trust and must be researched by the town attorney. He will look for other sites, too, he said.
Councilman Don Parker, D-3rd, said, "While we need something immediate, we need to look long term."
He told Hendrix he'd like to have decisions for the future made and in preliminary stages by the fall.
"We could be in a better position than we are," he said.
Earley said: "I don't want to put it out there that we're in trouble. We're not in trouble."
Instead, he said the council is working for solutions to ensure the water utility's future viability.
Earley said he'd like the council to look again at the quarry south of Lowell and north of Schneider. Water will be a natural by-product of its operation. That water could be sent through ditches to the Kankakee River, unless the town found it financially feasible to pump it to Lowell. Its owner is amenable to such, he said.
Corns said he favors ownership of the water source for overhead control.
The current well field is 19 years old. It and the plant were established as the result of legal action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency due to the excessive fluoride levels.