Over the last few years, you may have heard city officials and staff mention our wastewater treatment plant expansion project. I am happy to report that after waiting for four years, the state has finally decided to grant the city the necessary permits to expand the treatment plant. This was a very lengthy and thorough process. Unfortunately, while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is essentially requiring the city to complete this project, they could not complete the permitting process in less than four years. Because it took four years to get this permit, the estimated costs of the project have increased from $8.5 million to $11.5 million, due to the increase in costs of raw materials and labor.
Because our plant operates at near-maximum capacity, we must expand the plant. If we do not expand the plant, we risk the IEPA prohibiting the city from adding any new users, which would mean no new development of any kind--commercial, industrial, or even residential. This expansion will be costly and will result in higher water/sewer rates; but we have to remember, it is vital to the future of our community. If we cannot add any new users to our existing plant, we simply cannot grow. The advantages of completing this project now would be that when the economy does turn, we do not have to wait for the state to grant the city a permit. We will have already expanded the plant. Additionally, given today’s economy, construction costs are as low as they have been in years. So, we can take advantage of fair construction costs. Our new plant will be a state-of-the-art facility and be a valuable asset to the community as we continue to grow. This is vital to the future of our city; and I ask that you remember that as we move forward with this project.
As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact me either at Marengo City Hall at 815-568-7112, or at my home at 815-568-6559.