Nearly a year after authorizing design work on the Southwest Elmhurst Wet-Weather Control Facility, Elmhurst officials this week approved nearly $9 million in capital projects to alleviate sanitary sewer backups for as many as 2,300 homes.
The $8.7 million in improvements to and around the Saylor and Jackson lift station include nearly $3 million for a new 18-inch pumped sewer line, called a force main; $2.9 million for a new two million-gallon storage tank at the city's wastewater facility; and $2.8 million for new mechanical equipment and controls at the lift station.
Officials said a year ago that when the work is completed, it will cover an area where about 70 percent of city-wide sanitary sewer backups were reported after the July 2010 storm.
"This is the No. 1 priority project identified by (city consultant) RJN and the citizen task force," Ald. Jim Kennedy said after the meeting. "It's a big deal."
Kennedy, who chairs the Public Works and Buildings Committee, signed the reports recommending the spending along with committee member Ald. Diane Gutenkauf. Chris Healy missed the committee meeting, but said Tuesday he was in full support of the projects.
Ald. Michael Bram, the fourth member of the committee, did not sign the reports, saying he believes much of the sanitary sewer backup problem comes from private sources of stormwater entering the sanitary system.
"I don't think we should be spending over $10 million (for public works) when the problem lies with the private side," Bram said, citing the conclusion of a city consultant's report.
A city task force report estimated about 50 percent of that so-called I & I water comes into the sanitary system from building foundation drains and about 90 percent is from private sources, including what Bram called non-conforming connections of downspouts, sump pumps and other stormwater sources, some of which might have been allowed in the past.
The projects approved this week are to be paid for with a combination of $9 million in loans from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and $1.1 million available for stormwater projects from a 2012 general obligation bond issue.
The total project, including engineering and design work, is about $580,000 over budget. To cover that, city officials have elected to defer a water meter replacement project that was budgeted at $350,000 and about $230,000 in water main replacement and sewer lining projects.
Kennedy said he hopes all the construction work will be completed by fall.