Highland News Leader

Highland City Council approves Illinois EPA loan to upgrade water reclamation plant

The $11 million upgrade to Highland’s water reclamation plant will go forward with a loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The city council approved the loan at its meeting July 1 with no discussion. Repayment of the loan will be covered primarily by the water rate increase implemented last year for a two-year period, at which time it will be reviewed, according to water director Joe Gillespie.

The equipment at the water reclamation plant was last upgraded in 1997. The wastewater system was upgraded a few years ago with a $2.2 million bond, which was paid off in 2017.

But at that time, engineering firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly reported to the city another $11 million would be needed for rehabilitation of the water system.

Highland’s sewer mains, plant need updates

CMT had been replacing smaller, vitrified clay pipe sewer pipes that bring wastewater from residences and businesses to the city sewers, and found 50 percent of those city sewers needed to be rehabilitated, along with the majority of city manholes, many of which are still made of brick.

The reclamation plant is more than 40 years old, and in need of restoration with new equipment. Plocher Construction of Highland will begin the work within two months, and the project is expected to take a year to 18 months, Gillespie said.

“We have to make improvements while the plant is in operation,” Gillespie said. “They can only do so much while the plant is operating.”

In other news, the council postponed a scheduled vote on changing the inspection process for new home construction to allow Councilman John Hipskind to participate. The vote should take place July 15.