Neighboring towns consider Evanston as option for water supply

Stephanie Kelly, Reporter

Evanston could soon enter into a plan to supply neighboring villages with water as surrounding areas are looking for alternative water suppliers due to Chicago’s increasing rates, a city official said.

Dave Stoneback, the city’s utilities director, said Evanston is one option some villages are looking into obtaining their water supply from.

Both the villages of Niles and Morton Grove are looking for other suppliers, said Steven Vinezeano, the village manager of Niles. However, he said a water supply line costing about $115 million would have to be built in Evanston, which has discouraged some village officials from the two villages because of cost.

Vinezeano said another option would be purchasing the water from the Village of Wilmette, without having to pay the additional cost of the pipeline. The water would be pumped from Wilmette to Glenview and on to the villages. The cost would be more per 1,000 gallons of water than Evanston’s rate, Stoneback said.

“The advantage for (Niles and Morton Grove) in the long run is that they sell bonds to pay for that $115 million,” he said. “After 20 years, the debts from those bonds retire and the cost per 1,000 gallons for water is going to be still extremely low.”

The City of Park Ridge would have to be involved in the Evanston plan for it to work due to the cost requirements, Vinezeano said. Niles officials are unsure whether Park Ridge is on board, and without Park Ridge, the plan would be too expensive, he said.

With their Chicago contract expiring in 2018, Niles and Morton Groves officials need to decide soon whether to go with Evanston or Wilmette and Glenview, Vinezeano said.

“We literally would need to have shovels in the ground for this project probably next year,” he said.

Vinezeano said the decision to go with either Evanston or Wilmette and Glenview will create more efficiency for the supplying city or village.

“(Evanston or Wilmette’s) water system will be at optimal pumping, which makes for a better system,” he said. “It’s better financially for them.”

Stoneback said he worries politics might come in the way of the water supply line plan. He said no politician would want to be blamed for selling $115 million in bonds during their four year term.

“If you look at the longevity of it, it would be much wiser to come to Evanston,” he said. “But that’s not always the political game.”

The other option for Niles and Morton Grove is to stay with Chicago and buy its water, and Vinezeano said that is a possibility. He said the Village of Niles has been buying water from Chicago for about 80 years and it’s hard to leave something that has worked for that long.

“If we move away from Chicago, we have to be damn sure that whatever we hook up to is going to be as reliable and good as Chicago was,” Vinezeano said.

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