Water Main Repairs Prove Costly for Taxpayers

- WTVO/WQRF - Construction zones are a common sight after our damaging endless winter. For Rockford, one of the main concerns about water mains is budgeting enough money to deal with more than 800 miles of water lines that run underneath the city, some of which range from 75 to 133 years old.

"Benchmarking the City of Rockford to other national water utilities, we are a little bit higher than average on the number of service leaks," said Tim Holdeman, Water Superintendent for the City of Rockford.  

Because of the additional need for service, an increase will be needed for the water main repair budget for the next fiscal year. "Our 2015 budget will be about 1% higher than what it was in 2014," said Holdeman.  "That will accommodate some of the increase in cost and piping increase in contractor cost, and an increase in salaries."

The Forest City is not the only local municipality dealing with repairs of old water pipes. Freeport officials estimate they will need $5 to $6 million dollars to work on improvements for water and sewer services over the next two years.

"The mayor has assisted us with IEPA for the State of Illinois low interest revolving loan funds, and obviously some grant assistance money like energy grants,” said Tom Glendemning, Director of Utility Operations for Freeport’s Water & Sewer Commission.

Officials from both cities say it's going to take a lot more money to completely fix the degenerating infrastructure.

"We have just finished almost $20 million dollars of work over the last three years under [the IEPA] program, and we are basically going back to that program for further assistance," said Glendemning.

Officials from the North Park Public Water District say Machesney Park and Roscoe are not facing this issue because their water system is under 60-years-old.

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