Local Government

Federal grant would fund construction of city well on Quinsippi Island

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 15, 2019 1:30 pm

QUINCY -- Officials with Quincy's Engineering Department hope to learn next month that the city is the recipient of a $3.5 million federal grant, which they say will be used to help construct a new well on Quinsippi Island.

The well, which could generate about 14 million gallons of water per day, is expected to cost $10 million. The remaining construction cost would be covered by a 20-year, low-interest loan from the state's revolving loan fund. The city would be expected to make a $390,000 payment annually to pay back the loan.

"This is something that has been talked about since the early 1980s," said Jeffrey Conte, director of engineering and utilities. "Obviously, it is a lot of money, so you have to decide whether or not it is a priority."

Conte said the construction of a well is a good investment for the city.

"From an operations standpoint, if I am given the choice, to run either a surface water or a groundwater system, every day of the week I am going to choose a ground water plant," Conte said.

The city currently receives its water from the Mississippi River.

"I think eventually the city is going to move to a well supply for water, especially if you can get a chance to get it paid for by 30% or 35%," Conte said.

The federal grant and the construction of the well was a topic of discussion at the Quincy Utilities Committee meeting Thursday.

"I can't say whether it is a shoe-in or not," Conte said. "I think it could go either way."

Until an announcement is made, Conte said he and other city officials have not been working on an easement agreement with the Quincy Park District regarding the potential well's site on Quinsippi Island.

He also said that it is unlikely that the Engineering Department and the Utilities Committee would recommend to the City Council to construct the well without the grant.

The well project was first announced in May 2018 by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. Officials said that a new water source would lower the risk of legionnella bacteria from growing in the city's water supply. At least 13 people have died and dozens more have been sickened at the Illinois Veterans Home since 2015 from Legionnaires' disease, which is caused by the bacteria.

Rauner had announced $3 million was committed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, but state officials haven't said whether the grant is still available after Gov. J.B. Pritzker took office in January.

In other news, the Utilities Committee referred a $25,000 engineering consultant contract to the City Council. The contract, if approved, would have Klingner and Associates finish the design for a new lift station on Radio Road.

The current lift station, which was built in the SSRq90s, serves much of the industrial areas along Gardner Expressway.

"The current station is in very poor shape," Conte said. "It was actually built as a tri-lift station, meaning that it had three pumps. We are now down to two pumps and sometimes we are down to one pump. That station is required to have one pump running all of the time because of the flow from those industries there."

Conte said early construction estimates for the new lift station range from $500,000 to $600,000.

"We would be reusing all of the concrete structures, but would be replacing the pumps and the electrical controls and adding a back-up generator," Conte said. "This lift station replacement is long overdue."