Mount Carmel, Grayville, Albion explore option of regional water plant

September 13, 2016 GMT

MOUNT CARMEL — Representatives of Mount Carmel, Albion and Grayville local governments explored the feasibility of creating a regional water treatment plant Monday.

Mount Carmel City Commissioners Joe Judge, Justin Dulgar and Rod Rodriguez, Albion Mayor Steve McMahel and Grayville Mayor Joe Bisch met at Hogg Heaven in Mount Carmel with Mike Gill, regional manager of Lamac Engineering, who discussed the concept.

“This has the potential to affect a lot of people,” Gill said.

Albion and Grayville leaders have discussed a joint effort for a regional water treatment plant for some time. Dulgar, who is Mount Carmel’s water and sewage commissioner, attended those discussions this past spring.

All three communities are contending with the task of improving water quality.

“I’m trying to get my citizens good water,” said Bisch. “We’re fools if we don’t. We can’t do this by ourselves.”

Jon Lam, regional manager of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency division of public water supplies, pointed out the issues.

Grayville and Albion have had problems with keeping water clean, while Mount Carmel’s water treatment plant, described as “old and decrepit,” doesn’t meet certain EPA regulations, Lam said.

In addition to the problems with maintaining a deteriorating plant, water costs more in Mount Carmel than it does in surrounding municipalities because of the high price of treatment at the old facility.

“This is something that is going to outlast us,” said John Acree, vice president of Lamac Engineering, and a Mount Carmel resident. “This is about the future of our region.”

Abby Bacon, representing USDA Rural Development, said “more than likely this is going to take a while to get moving.”

It would be three to four years before a treatment facility could be constructed. The first requirements involve create a legal entity representative of the three municipalities, application process and an engineering study.

Bacon explained that Rural Development offers long term financing for sewer and water facilities. The financing would be part of a 40-year loan, with the possibility of grants to alleviate the cost.

The cost is what Mount Carmel city commissioners are concerned about.

Building a treatment plant to serve the three communities plus small communities like Keensburg and Allendale, could cost between $10 million and $12 million.

For comparison, Dulgar said after talking to an engineer, the estimated cost for Mount Carmel to build a new facility would be around $7 million to $8 million.

Villages of Keensburg, Bellmont and Allendale do not buy water from Mount Carmel, so they would also have to decide whether to participate.

“All you have to do is hold the carrot out and they will jump,” Lam predicted.

Bacon and others said the payments on the new facility would be charged to a water district entity created by the three municipalities.

Grayville and Albion government officials said they favor the creation of such an entity.

“The question is if Mount Carmel wants to get off their big boat and play with the other kids,” joked Acree.

Judge and Dulgar said that while Albion and Grayville mayors were present at the meeting, Mount Carmel Mayor Bill Hudson and commissioner Eric Ikemire were not able to attend.

No decision was made Monday about Mount Carmel’s particpation, but the issue will be discussed at the Sept. 26 Mount Carmel City Council meeting.

Several who attended Monday night’s meeting promised to attend the city council meeting to present information to the council.