NEW CHICAGO | The town of New Chicago will kick off its water system improvement project at 10 a.m. Saturday with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The ceremony will be at the water tower at 120 Cleveland Ave.
The first phase of the project represents a $6 million effort to upgrade the town's aged water distribution system, which dates back to 1954, project engineer Jeffrey R. Ban said.
The first phase of improvements will include the rehabilitation and replacement of more than five miles of new water mains, services, valves and fire hydrants.
The project includes a new metering vault and new connection to the town's water supplier and the upgrade of existing telemetering and control equipment.
Ban said the project is expected to enhance water quality, improve fire protection and eliminate water main breaks.
"This project is a major commitment to improve water service and fire protection for our residents and water customers," Town Council President Laurie Robbins said.
"This investment will improve service pressures throughout our system and dramatically reduce the maintenance and repair costs we have been experiencing for years due to our old, corroded, leaky pipes and valves," Robbins said.
Gatlin Plumbing and Heating, of Griffith, was the successful bidder and recently awarded an approximately $4.8 million contract to perform the work, Ban said.
Development Visions Group Inc., of Crown Point, is serving as the town's engineer for the project.
New Chicago water works provides service to about 2,300 customers in New Chicago, Lake Station, Gary, Hobart and nearby unincorporated areas of Lake County.
The New Chicago Town Council last spring approved the project after officials received approval for a low-interest loan through the Indiana Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
To begin paying back the loan, a 31 water rate percent increase was put into place June 1, Robbins said.
"We hadn't raised our water rates since 2004. We didn't get any flack, since we're still cheaper than most other communities," Robbins said.
Work on the first phase will begin as soon as weather allows.
Customers will be given notification two weeks in advance if work is going to be done in front of their home, Robbins said.
"We anticipate the work will start by the end of February," Robbins said.