New water supply pact on tap for Orland Park
BY MIKE NOLAN email@example.com October 22, 2013 4:52PM
Updated: November 24, 2013 6:26AM
A new long-term Lake Michigan water supply agreement shouldn’t have a dramatic impact on Orland Park residents’ water bills, according to village officials.
Orland Park and four other southwest suburbs — Mokena, New Lenox, Oak Forest and Tinley Park — jointly negotiated a new agreement with Oak Lawn, which provides lake water to those communities and seven others.
The 40-year supply agreement would take effect next January. An Orland Park village board committee on Monday gave tentative approval to the deal, which also will be considered by the board’s finance committee, with the full board expected to approve it next month. Information about the water agreement is posted on the village’s website.
The supply contract for the five communities lapsed in 2011, with Oak Lawn extending the terms of that pact until the end of this year. A focus of the talks the past few years has been how the village and other suburbs Oak Lawn supplies will share in the cost of a multimillion-dollar water system improvement project, Paul Grimes, Orland Park’s village manager, said.
Oak Lawn plans to spend about $171 million to upgrade the system, including building a second supply line that would keep the water flowing in the event the primary line were severely damaged. More efficient pumping stations are part of the project, expected to be completed in 2018, and the system’s water-carrying capacity is getting a boost to anticipate higher water demand in the coming years.
Orland Park and the four communities it negotiated with represent 80 percent of the customer base for Oak Lawn-supplied water, but all 12 communities that buy water from that village will bear a proportionate share of the cost of the improvements.
Spread over a number of years, the cost of the upgrade is expected to add less than $5 a month to the typical Orland Park homeowner’s water bill, according to the village.
Oak Lawn has been able to obtain $80 million in low-interest loans through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and is studying options for financing the balance, Grimes said.
An aim of the talks was to “mitigate the impact to ratepayers” of shouldering the cost of the system upgrades, he said.
Orland Park residents and businesses already have seen big back-to-back water rate hikes, largely due to increases passed along by Chicago to its wholesale water customers, such as Oak Lawn.
A 15 percent increase that took effect in January followed a 25 percent hike that took effect at the start of 2012. Additional increases of 15 percent also will hit Orland Park and other suburbs on Jan. 1 of 2014 and 2015.