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Alternatives sought for city water supply

Alternatives sought for city water supply

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BLOOMINGTON - A second water source for the city that draws on an aquifer is still the goal for Bloomington.

In addition to providing a supplemental source to the city's Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake, tapping into the Mahomet Aquifer and building a well site west of the city is part of a regional water supply plan.

However, that solution is still $25 million and years away. Bloomington Water Director Craig Cummings told the council at a work session Monday the city needs to look at short-term alternatives, such as smaller unit wells to service sections or large subdivisions within the community.

If the city was ready to tap into the aquifer on the border of McLean and Tazewell counties, Cummings said construction on the pipelines and treatment plant would take about two years.

Unfortunately, the city is far from ready for construction, he added.

The city is in the process of drafting an intergovernmental agreement with Normal and area towns. After the agreement, which must meet the approval of the area water boards, is in place, the city must acquire and buy the right-of-way needed to run up to 15 miles of pipeline between the city and the well site. It's a process that could take years, Cummings said.

"The county line groundwater plan is still our ultimate goal and that project is still the solution," Cummings said. "But are there alternatives that we can look at in the meantime?"

Tapping into the aquifer is a plan developed out of the drought that hit Central Illinois in 1988 and 1989.

The area received a reminder of those droughts in 2005. Lake Bloomington on Friday returned to its normal level after dropping by more than 11 feet last summer. Also, Evergreen Lake remains 4 feet below normal. Unit wells could tap into ground water and supply a specific area. Cummings said a unit well could provide 500,000 to 1 million gallons of water a day to subdivisions or areas of the city.

The city ideally would draw 6 million gallons a day from the aquifer with the maximum capacity of drawing 20 million gallons.

The lakes provide an average of 12 million gallons a day, and the Lake Bloomington plant has the capacity to treat 22 million gallons a day.

Cummings said developing a source water strategic plan will allow the city to establish a timeline for tapping into the aquifer and look at alternatives to provide smaller options through the years.

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