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Blue Island voters can weigh in on water

Updated: April 27, 2013 6:06AM



While seven south suburbs are jointly exploring the possibility of constructing their own lake water system, voters in two of those suburbs can voice their opinions on that effort in advisory referendums on the April 9 ballot.

The Blue Island City Council decided to seek input from residents and will ask: “Shall the city of Blue Island continue its participation in the Joint Action Water Agency to explore less expensive alternatives for buying and distributing water for use by city residents and businesses?”

In Calumet Park, residents petitioned the village, requiring it to put the issue up for an advisory vote, saying they object to any legal agreements and financial support that would facilitate the construction of a system.

The five other towns that comprise the South Suburban Joint Action Water Agency are Alsip, Harvey, Markham, Midlothian and Robbins.

The group has been meeting since June 2011 to explore less costly alternatives to Lake Michigan water than obtaining it through Chicago, as they do now.

The agency has issued $5 million in bonds to hire engineers to study the feasibility of getting the water from Indiana, constructing and maintaining their own water lines.

Blue Island’s share of that is 10 percent, Mayor Don Peloquin said.

“We are trying all avenues,” he said. No route and no costs have yet been determined.

Peloquin, who is not seeking re-election, said the majority of the city council also could change along with the mayor’s seat in the April 9 election.

“They all want to see the numbers before making a decision,” he said.

He believes the costs will show that the agency can provide its own water at a better price. But it is also “very important” to be able to control their own water system, he said.

Currently, lake water users pay whatever Chicago charges. Chicago plans to upgrade its aging infrastructure and has begun to pass those costs on through increases of 25 percent in 2012 and 15 percent the next three years, putting it at $3.82 per 1,000 gallons by 2015.

“We are simply doing a study to determine if it’s feasible,” Calumet Park acting village administrator Mary Ryan said. “Nothing will be done until the study is done.”



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