SYCAMORE – For the foreseeable future, Sycamore residents will see a higher water bill.
A $3.50 fee on residents' monthly water bills will go towards capital projects to help improve the water's quality and increase fire flow, said Mark Bushnell, Sycamore city engineer. There will also be a additional 25-cent increase going towards radium treatments.
"Those will be the only two changes to the utility bill," Bushnell said.
Bushnell explained the need to increase the fire flow.
"At times we have difficulty pushing water to areas with smaller mainlines," he said.
Bushnell said the firefighters have been able to get the water they've needed to fight the fires, but it's just a matter of them having to connect to multiple points on different mainlines.
"Rather than connecting to one or two points to fight a fire, they might have to extend in three or four connnections to be able to get the water they need," he said.
The water fund is self-supporting and receives funds from user fees – the principal funding source for the City of Sycamore's water system. The fund also pays the debt service used for capital improvements or repairs of the city's wells, two elevated water storage tanks and 110 miles of water mainlines.
Bushnell said there are 10 priority projects – with an estimated cost of about $12 million – for the water mainlines. Those projects would happen over several years.
"Some of these have pretty big price tags," he said. "But we're confident we can reduce this by pairing it with development, pairing it with a street project. Some of these public works crews can do."
The three biggest priority projects are along Somonauk Road for $3.8 million, Sabin Street and East Exchange for $2.1 million, near the intersection of North California Street and Brickville Road and North Avenue for $1.43 million and East Lincoln Street and Locust Street or $1.4 million.
In addition to the priority projects, the city has an aging infrastructure, Bushnell said.
"We do need to start a more aggressive annual replacement program," he said of the main lines. "That's to address some of the breaks."