What is the current maintenance project that is currently ongoing?The Village is conducting necessary maintenance on one of its primary deep wells which is used for the production of water. Maintenance is required approximately every ten years and the maintenance of the current well was last completed in 2003. During the month of September Village staff observed a decrease in the output production of well #3. The well was approaching a point where it would no longer provide the required output to run through the water treatment plant. Maintenance for the well had been already scheduled to begin in mid-October, but the start date was pushed forward to the beginning of October due to the rising issues with the well’s output. This would also ensure that any work done would be completed before Thanksgiving.
The work involves the removal of all of the well casing pipe, which is then moved offsite for reconditioning and repair. Removal of the pipe takes approximately one week. Once offsite the pipe integrity is inspected and repaired, a process which takes approximately 2-4 weeks depending upon the amount of repairs required. When completed, crews return to the well site to inspect the well shaft before returning the well pipe to the well and bringing the well back online.
Photos showing the removal of the pipe as well as the cracked bowl, which caused the decrease in output are available to view at the following link: Well #3 Column Pipe Reconditioning
Why is the Village experiencing water quality problems right now?The issues we are experiencing now and the ones we experienced during the summer of 2012 are largely temporary and are a result of our need to use our emergency shallow well for maintenance.
Typical well maintenance is scheduled during the fall and winter months when demand is expected to be lower. Average annual temperatures for October are around 49 degrees with an average monthly rainfall of just over 3 inches. The current month of October has unfortunately been abnormally warm and dry with approximately .08 inches through October 17th and an average temperature hovering around 63 degrees. Because of these abnormal weather conditions, the Village has observed water consumption rates similar to those of the summer months. Staff anticipated having to supplement with the well only a few hours a day, but the weather has forced the shallow well to operate around 16-18 hours a day along with running well #4 continuously.
Due to the demand in our system the Village has had to supplement supply with our shallow well #1. This well does not go through our treatment plant and is our “emergency” well. That well is currently being chlorinated only and is blending with well #4, which is being fully treated before going out to distribution. Due to the current weather conditions and demand on our system the Village is running well #1 between 16-18 hours a day to meet system demand. Our efforts are trying to limit system demand to alleviate the need for well #1 as much as possible.
Why can’t the Village just use the water treated through the treatment plant?Currently the Village has a typical daily usage of approximately 1.6-2.8 million gallons per day (MGD) depending upon the season. Our three wells have maximum outputs of approximately 1.2 MGD, 1.7 MGD and 1.5 MGD as they currently stand. Our water treatment plant has a capacity of treating just over 3.0 MGD and the Village needs to have two of our three wells running at any point in order to meet daily demand.
Why did the Village implement water restrictions?Over the past week system demand has remained high near 1.9 MGD and the Village has continued to need to utilize well #1 for long periods to meet output requirements. To try and decrease the need for well #1 the Village is trying to lower the overall demand required from the water treatment plant. Implementing ban on all unnecessary water usage will decrease the overall consumption by the community and allow for less usage of well #1, resulting in improved water quality.
Are there exceptions to the use restrictions for new sod or landscaping?Yes, new landscaping and sod can continue to receive water, however there are guidelines to the use of the water for those plantings. Information will be available on the Village website or at the Community Development Department located at Village Hall.
Why wasn’t there more notification sent out to residents regarding this work on the well?The Village put a notice in the September issue of Tower Topics indicating that residents may experience a change in their water quality when maintenance begins in October. Information was put out based upon estimated usage and average historical data for the month of October. Typical plant output rates during the month of November during average conditions is approximately 1.3-1.5 MGD. Observed usage during the current month has been around 1.9 MGD.
As weather conditions and system usage has changed the Village has been continually trying to update residents based upon the feedback we received in the system. During the beginning of October, the Village did not receive many phone calls from residents observing a change in water quality. The perceived impact was minor for those residents who were having issues and many residents indicated early on through verbal discussions that the water did clear up after they ran their tap for a short period. It was during the second week of October that the Village has received a significant number of phone calls from residents who are experiencing issues. The Village has tried to respond as issues have arisen.
Information is being posted as quickly as it becomes available. Reports of residents experiencing issues have been progressive over the past several weeks and have not been static.
Wasn’t the construction of the new reverse osmosis plant supposed to fix these problems?The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) currently rates the United States’ water infrastructure as “poor”. Water production systems across the country have infrastructure that was constructed during the mid-20th century and those systems are now reaching the end of their life. Much of the Village’s infrastructure for the water system dates from the 1960’s or earlier and improvements to Village’s system began with the reconstruction of our new water treatment plant. Further improvements to the entire distribution system will be needed, all of which would require upgrades regardless if the Village was on aquifer or lake water. These upgrades include improvements to the Village’s water towers, residential meters, and water mains.
The Village’s water fund is an enterprise fund and improvements are not paid for with property tax dollars. The Village also does not have a large sales tax base to supplement funding so improvements to the water infrastructure are funded almost entirely through the water bills. Unfortunately water infrastructure is also one of the most expensive to replace and upgrade. The replacement of one block of water main costs approximately $100,000 and with nearly 52 miles of main within the community there is a substantial capital investment which will be required moving forward.
Information regarding the Village’s water infrastructure can be found in the 2014 Water Infrastructure Report. Additional information on the United States’ water infrastructure can be found on the ASCE 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.
What is the Village’s current production system?The Village’s current water production system is a gravity fed distributed network that is fed from the Village’s water treatment plant. The Village has a 2-million-gallon standpipe located near Lyons Township High School and a 1 million gallon elevated tank located at Springrock Park, both of which pressure the current system. The Village’s water mains are not uni-directional and flow in the pipes changes depending upon various conditions from the two water tanks and usage within the system. The Village has over 52 miles of water main, of which approximately 77% is over forty years in age.
The Village completed a major renovation of the water treatment plant in 2013 which transitioned the Village from a lime softening treatment process to a low pressure reverse osmosis process (LPRO). The treatment plant outputs nearly 600 million gallons of water to the residents of Western Springs and verage daily consumption levels range from approximately 1.6 – 2.8 millions of gallons per day (MGD).
The Village currently operates on a three well system that feeds the water treatment plant with wells #1, #3 and #4.
Well #1 is a shallow well, drilled to a depth of 385 feet below land surface within the St. Peter Formation. Well #1 was drilled in 1924 and currently has a capacity just under 850 gallons per minute (GPM) or a maximum of 1.2 MGD. This well has a high total hardness and iron, but meets all federal primary drink water standards. Due to the high amount of hardness and iron from the well, the water is typically not put through the water plant for treatment since the water would be a high amount of stress on the treatment equipment within the plant. This well is used only during emergencies and serves as a backup well while one of the other wells is currently offline. When this well is operated to distribution residents will often notice a change in the water quality during that time.
Well #2 was a shallow well similar to well #1 which was located at the water treatment plant. It was capped during the mid-twentieth century and is no longer in use.
Well #3 is the primary source of water for the Village and the well currently undergoing maintenance. Drilled in 1955 in the Ironton-Galesville formation to the depth of approximately 1,600 feet, well #3 is a deep well and the production capacity is approximately 1,200 GPM or a maximum of 1.7 MGD. Water from this well exceeds the primary drinking water standard for radium; therefore, the water must be treated prior to distribution. All other measurements for water quality however indicate that the well has acceptable water quality.
Well #4 was drilled in 1966 in the Mt. Simon formation and is approximately 1,900 feet below land surface. This well has a production capacity of approximately 1,100 GPM or a maximum of 1.5 MGD. Radium levels in well #4 meet the primary drink water standard; therefore, the water from well #4 may be used with disinfection only, if needed. Total hardness on this well is lower than well #3 and with different mineralization well #4 water will have a noticeable taste change if not treated.
Is the water safe to drink?The water is safe to drink and does meet all state and federal guidelines. With the utilization of well #1 in high quantities the taste and color of the water does not meet the Village’s standards for high quality water. Efforts are made to minimize the use of well #1 whenever possible. The Village conducts daily tests utilizing a lab located in the water treatment plant, but also utilizes outside labs for testing as is required by the IEPA.
Why didn’t the Village choose lake water or some other source for water?The Village from the late 1990’s through 2008 conducted extensive research on various options for rehabilitating the Village’s aging infrastructure. Over a nearly ten year period a Water Study Group comprised of current and former elected officials, Village Staff and water industry professionals developed a report reviewing and comparing the various factors associated with different water source and treatment options. In 2008 that report was publish by the Village and can be found at the links below.Water Study Report - 2008 Ad Hoc Water GroupWater Study Report Appendix 01 - Lake WaterWater Study Report Appendix 04 - HistoryWater Study Report Appendix 05 - Status of EquipmentWater Study Report Appendix 06 - Quantitative BenefitsWater Study Report Appendix 07 - Contributors and Members
How can I receive updates regarding this project and other Village news?Updated information regarding the Village well maintenance project is posted on the Village website at www.wsprings.com. Residents can sign up for the email or text notifications for either the “Community News” or the “Municipal Services Department” section on the site under "Notify Me". Both sections are receiving updates regarding the project and the water quality right now in the Village. Clicking on the “Notify Me” button on the right hand side of the Village website will take you to the signup page.
Is the water corrosive?The water is not corrosive. Typical pH levels for the water leaving the treatment plant range from approximately 7.5 to 7.8.