Glen Ellyn water regulations

Glen Ellyn trustees voted on Feb. 10 to approve new regulations to protect the village's water system. (Quan Truong, Chicago Tribune / February 11, 2014)

Glen Ellyn will start regulating sprinkler and irrigation systems in the village, a move to protect its water system, although how the program will be carried out is still to be decided.

The board of trustees voted unanimously Feb. 10 to adopt cross-connection control regulations.

Cross connections are found in pipe systems where it's possible for safe public water and questionable water to flow into one another. If working properly, pressure from the public system should keep the unknown water from back flowing, but these have to be checked annually to make sure there isn't a drop in water pressure.

Cross-connection control devices are required in fire sprinkler systems, irrigation systems, restaurants, doctors' offices, dentists' offices, mortuaries and manufacturing plants.

Adopting an ordinance and a management plan to make sure the water system isn't contaminated is required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The state agency has inspected Glen Ellyn's water system in the past, the last time in 2011, and has noted the village needs to have a "cross-connection control ordinance and management program."

The state agency requires that local governments that have water systems provide oversight to make sure the devices are in place where needed and that they are inspected annually.

"I think many residents may not know that they need to have those inspected and we can make them aware of that," said Public Works Director Julius Hansen, at Monday's meeting.

Village officials estimate there are about 1,986 devices that would need to be inspected each year.

To carry out the management program, the village could either do it in-house or outsource the work to a third party.

"We did a survey of other towns....We found that most communities that have a program do have someone that's an expert in the field administering the program. They're not doing it in-house," Hansen said.

Those that maintain the program with its own staff dedicate a lot of time and hours to it, he added.

A staff report noted that communities such as Carol Stream, Hinsdale, Lombard and Naperville use third-parties. Wheaton does the work in house, although their inventory is slightly less than Glen Ellyn's and the city is about twice the size, according to the report. They have a trained employee who dedicates about 20 hours a week to the program, said Bob Greenberg, utility superintendent.

Glen Ellyn village staff recommended on Monday that the village hire Aqua Backflow, an Elgin company that also provides the service to Lombard and Naperville for a one year contract. The village would pay $360 in management fees and about $4,500 for an annual survey to be mailed out to residents. The test submission fees would be $9.95 each, which would be paid by the testing plumber.

The vote was postponed after some trustees expressed concern with the plan.

Trustees Diane McGinley and Pete Ladesic wondered if the village needed to outsource the work and whether all the items on the list of the program requirements were necessary.

"It seems like it's a relatively simple thing for us to do this in house," Ladesic said, adding that perhaps it was better to start the program with the village's staff and then hand it off to a third party later if it became too labor intensive.

"I think we should walk before we run with this thing."

Village President Alex Demos and Trustee Jim Burket were also hesitant, although saying they would support trying a one-year contract to get the program started.

McGinley requested more time and the board voted 3-2 to postpone it to the next village board meeting on Feb. 24.

qtruong@tribune.com | Twitter: @QuanATruong