Winnetka eyes two water main projects
Winnetka officials are planning to replace sections of is century-old water infrastructure to avoid the flooding, seen here, that took place in 2011. | Fil photo
WINNETKA — During the Winnetka Village Council’s second budget session on Feb. 13, it was revealed two water main replacement projects could be on tap for 2013 as part of the water department’s capital expenditures for fiscal year 2014.
Water and electric department director Brian Keys said two poorly performing sections of water mains will be replaced with new eight-inch pipes under portions Oak Street and Birch Street after several failures this summer.
The Oak project, running from Birch to Chestnut Street, has a cost of $132,000 while the Birch pipe replacement, from Alles Road to 210 Chestnut, is estimated to cost $180,000.
“We’re targeting those areas specifically because of their poor performance,” Keys said. “Those two areas had nine breaks this summer.”
Keys also revealed the village will have to address the potential replacement of the entire 72 miles of Winnetka’s water system in the near future.
“Most (of the system) was installed in the early 1900s and will have to be replaced,” Keys said. “I think what you’ll see coming from staff in the very near future is our focus (shifting) from capital projects at the water plant to what we’re going to do with the delivery system. Unfortunately it’s a project that will take decades to replace.”
Finance director Ed McKee said the village staff has looked at replacing roughly 90 percent of the water system over a 75-year period and estimated costs to do so at $135 million.
“That’s probably why older towns’ water rates are higher than ours,” McKee said of other towns beginning to look at their own replacement projects.
Battling aging infrastructure remains a tough challenge as the village looks first for those areas with the highest need. The Birch main is a six-inch main while the Oak main is only four inches in diameter. The village hopes the new eight-inch pipes will increase service and reliability to those areas of the village.
“We saw a large number of failures on smaller mains,” Keys said. “What we have to wrestle with is the priority of how many customers are served, the size of the main, etc.”
To help fund the infrastructure improvements and other projects the village staff is asking for a 6 percent water rate increase for residents from $29.78 to $31.57 per 1,000 cubic feet of water and an 8 percent increase from $51.27 to $55.37 per 1,000 cubic feet of water for unincorporated areas of the village.