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NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus La Salle water works superintendent Dave Stacker stands next to one of the city’s municipal wells near the Illinois River. Stacker said that during last spring’s floods, the rising river water came within 8 inches of the top of the above-ground well heads. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will require the city to raise them even higher.
Improvements to the water system are going to take priority for the city of La Salle this year.
“I think the biggest project in 2014 is our water needs,” said Public Works Director Jeff Bumgarner, who officially took over the position after Sam McNeilly retired Dec. 1, but who also worked with McNeilly since mid-September.
Bumgarner said he was involved in finalizing the dike around the south side wastewater treatment plant. The dike was built higher than the record flood level to keep the river from running over the treatment plant.
“I think it’s great,” Bumgarner said. “I think it’ll add a lot of protection from floods for years to come.”
The city is planning to replace the effluent pumps that pump the treated water back into the river, since the old ones are around 40 years old, Bumgarner said. The replacement is expected to be completed by May 2014.
The dike and pumps are being paid for by funds from the Ike Dike program (a federal program begun after Hurricane Ike in 2008), as well as funds from the Clean Energy Now state grant for efficient energy use, Bumgarner said. The total amount is around $2.7 million, he said.
Another water-related project is the raising of the well heads to 36 inches above maximum flood level, in accordance with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. This will keep the wells from being contaminated with flood water, Bumgarner said.
The city also will dig three additional wells, Bumgarner said, although they may not all be ready until 2015.
Another project involving water is the updating of the city’s computer system that allows water treatment workers to monitor the activity in the wells, pumps and tanks. Bumgarner said the current system is from the 1980s.
“It’s a long-term project to replace things that have been outdated,” Bumgarner said.
Bumgarner said the city would seek outside funding for these projects, but as of now, the water rate hikes in the past couple years would be used for funding.
Other 2014 projects for the city of La Salle, according to Mayor Jeff Grove, are: * Rotary Park: The Rotary Foundation is about halfway to raising the funds needed to complete phase 2, which will include a new walking/bike path and a new baseball diamond. Construction is expected to start some time this spring or summer. * L-P sports complex: The new sports complex was built in partnership with La Salle-Peru Township High School and will be open to the public this spring. * Convenience stores: Beck’s Convenience Stores and Casey’s General Store are expected to build new facilities in the city. * Road and sidewalk paving: The city continues to repave roads and sidewalks in high-traffic areas. * Downtown/neighborhood beautification: Buildings are being refurbished to encourage more businesses to operate in the downtown area.