Evanston’s OK only bar to start Lagoon plan

Jodi Genshaft

Northwestern administrators’ timetable for filling four acres of the Lagoon north of Norris University Center will proceed as scheduled, pending a city building permit to drive steel sheeting into the water.

James Wolinski, director of Evanston’s community development, said the city will grant the permit after resolving some transportation details with the university.

Evanston has requested a truck-routing plan from NU showing that truck weight will not overload the city’s streets, Wolinski said.

On Wednesday, Wolinski met with Ron Nayler, NU’s vice president for facilities management, to hammer out the construction details.

Besides the pending city approval, NU has all the environmental permits it needs to begin construction around March 1, said Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Eugene Sunshine.

On Dec. 12, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued NU a water pollution control building permit to modify the cooling system for the Lagoon. NU was not required to announce the construction permit to the public, IEPA spokeswoman Joan Muraro said.

The IEPA permit allows the university to re-route cooling water from the Central Utility Plant to the Lagoon by replacing existing pipes with 170 feet of new steel piping and hardware.

The university will shut down the cooling system, which serves as a halfway point as water heated by the plant flows into Lake Michigan. Cooling water will empty directly into the lake until June 1, when the system will be restarted, Sunshine said.

According to EPA water quality restrictions, outflow into Lake Michigan cannot increase the lake temperature by more than 20 degrees. In June, when the system is restored, the lake temperature hovers around 70 degrees, said Tom McSwiggin, manager of IEPA’s permit section.

A five-year individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which the IEPA issued to NU about five years ago, regulates the cooling water discharged into Lake Michigan. The university applied for that permit renewal Nov. 2 because the existing one will expire April 30, he said.

Once the IEPA issues a draft permit regulating the discharge, both NU and Evanston must post a public notice for 30 days, McSwiggin said. During this time, people may write letters to IEPA or request a public hearing, he added.

But McSwiggin said the IEPA will not review the renewal application until late spring. Because the university submitted the renewal request within 180 days of its expiration, the existing permit remains in effect until IEPA processes the minor application, he said.

NU also has a general storm water permit, which regulates soil erosion resulting from construction-site run-off for areas greater than five acres, McSwiggin said. In March 2003, the state will extend this permit to 1-acre areas. While the permit expires in June 2003, the university will not need to renew the permit under the new limitations as long as construction is completed before March 10, 2003.

NU officials said construction will start on time pending the city approves all permits.

Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations, said NU has received several construction bids but has not chosen the contractor.