Water districts tapped for state mandate

Water districts tapped for state mandate
By: Arnold Wyrick

Marion, IL - When it comes to keeping the water flowing in Southern Illinois, the price just went up.  That's because the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is mandating all water districts to have at least a  minimum of one day supply of treated water, standing by in case of an emergency.
"And to do that we're going to have to build two more 500,000 gallon water tanks.  And they will cost around $900,000.00 a piece," says Marion's Water Commissioner Robert "Dog" Connell.
The cost won't stop there for Marion's water customers.  The state mandate also requires generators at all pump houses throughout the municipalities system.
"So we need about 3 of those, one at Halfway Road, at Morgan Avenue at a cost of about $40,000.00 a piece.  And then out at the lake we need one which can drive the 150 horsepower motors on the pumps out there.  And it's going to cost around $80,000.00," Commissioner Connell said.
Marion's water woes continued when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently requested the city to look into tapping Rend Lake Water Conservancy District.  Instead of going forward with the city's planned reservoir along Sugar Creek.
"We've talked to Rend Lake they're willing to sell us water, and work with us.  But my problem is all the water coming from one source.  They're already supplying 60 some odd communities with water.  What happens if a tornado comes through and destroys the plant?" Commissioner Connell asks.
Connell would like for the city to tap into Devils Kitchen Lake located to the Southwest of Marion.
"When that lake was built, it was built for three main reasons.  One was to supply water to municipalities.  Another one was to create jobs, and the 3rd reason was for recreational purposes.  And so far that's all that they're allowing anyone to do out there, is to fish," Connell said.
Just how much the water rates will go up in Marion, and surrounding communities as each water district throughout the state, comes into compliance with Illinois' Environmental Protection Agency's mandate is yet to be seen.  But the money will come from the end users, you and I.