Metro-East News

Collinsville water plant moves forward despite snags

Ground is broken on Collinsville's new water treatment plant

The city of Collinsville, IL broke ground on its new water treatment plant Wednesday morning. Collinsville Mayor John Miller spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.
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The city of Collinsville, IL broke ground on its new water treatment plant Wednesday morning. Collinsville Mayor John Miller spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.

City officials smiled in the sun and turned over the ground with golden shovels Wednesday for the new water treatment plant after years of delays due to litigation.

The site for the new treatment plant is across the street from the existing plant, which was built in 1958. Originally, the city planned to build adjacent to the existing plant, which would abut the Jaycees Sports Complex leased to the Collinsville Area Recreation District. CARD then sued the city in 2014, alleging the project would violate the terms of their lease.

Eventually, the city opted to buy 10.5 acres of unused property across the street from a private owner. The city only needs four or five acres for the water treatment plant, which leaves them plenty of space to expand or to market unused property for commercial purposes, according to City Manager Mitch Bair.

The well, maintenance garage and million-gallon ground storage tank will remain at the old plant site.

“It’s been a long road,” said Mayor John Miller, “but this facility should benefit our citizens for the next 50 to 75 years.”

Plans for the project have been in the works since 2012, comparing the cost and benefits of retrofitting the existing plant vs. a new plant with updated technology. In the end, Miller said, the price was almost the same for both plans.

But it didn’t come without a cost. In 2014, Collinsville enacted a 38 percent water rate increase to pay the 20-year bonds necessary for the $20 million plant project, which Miller said was not well-received by residents. But it had to be done to meet the growing needs of the city as well as federal and state regulations for clean water, Miller said.

“When things get old, they start breaking down,” Miller said. “Homes are bigger, the population is growing, we need water for fire protection and we have expanded water lines with bigger and better mains … We have to stay on the cutting edge of technology and be ready for the next big challenge. Forgive the expression, but we’re priming the pump for great facilities for the city.”

We’re priming the pump for great facilities for the city.

Collinsville Mayor John Miller

Bair pointed out that water rates did not increase this year, and while he could not say how long that would be the case, they have been helped by low-interest state loans in keeping the taxpayer cost low. While the current system serves only Collinsville and State Park Place, he said they remain eager to partner with other municipalities for their water needs, especially since the new plant will have space to expand.

In the meantime, the plant site requires fill dirt, which was delivered to the site in advance. The dirt will be leveled according to the contractor’s specifications, Miller said. In the meantime it remains on the site, appearing similar to the ancient mounds at the nearby Cahokia Mounds historic site.

In addition, the CARD suit is still pending in Madison County courts. Bair said the city leaders are “very frustrated,” but confident that they can move forward with the project.

The new plant will treat 5 million gallons per day and is expected to be completed by summer 2019, with full completion in September 2019. Bair said another advantage to building a separate plant will be having two plants operational during the transition, so there is no chance of problems or delays endangering the water supply as the burden shifts from the old plant to the new one.

The water plant was designed by Hurst-Rosche Engineers of Hillsboro, Ill. The $17.8 million construction contract was awarded to Korte & Luitjohan Contractors of Highland.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

Collinsville’s water plant, which went online in 1958, lacks redundancy and limits the city from doing heavy maintenance that would shut the system down for more than 30 hours. Dennis Kress, water supervisor for Collinsville, IL talks about the th