Members of the Decatur City Council on Monday unanimously approved a plan to address the city’s long-term water supply needs.
Assistant City Manager Billy Tyus calls the plan “a wide-ranging capital investment” that will provide “nearly 8 million gallons of additional water per day during dry or drought conditions and fund maintenance to the city’s aging water infrastructure”.
from Assistant City Manager Billy Tyus:
As part of the program, water rate increases of 35%, 30% and 25% with annual cost of living increases of 2.5% were approved to fund the work. As part of the plan the city will, among other things:
- Identify and construct new water sources, including shallow collector and vertical wells.
- Continue dredging of Lake Decatur and negotiations for purchase of Lake Tokorozawa.
- Fund DeWitt County Wellfield improvements and annual distribution system leak detection and repair.
- Perform critical annual maintenance on current water system, parts of which are approaching the end of their useful life.
Residents will also begin receiving monthly bills as part of system administration changes, a move made in part to help residents adjust to the rate increase. In clarifying the change, City Manager Ryan McCrady explained that each of the new bills would be for one month of service, not three months as is currently the case, but at the new rate.
Decatur residents and businesses use water at the same level as a community of about 250,000 residents, underscoring the need for the securing of a stabilized, sustainable water supply. In addition to residential use, local industry employs more than 11,000 people – jobs critical to the livelihood of local residents – many of which rely on large volumes of water to operate.
The City Council on Monday also began discussing the city’s proposed 2013 budget. The budget calls for a $500,000 to the Capital Fund and $350,000 in spending for the demolition of unsafe structures.
A number of major capital projects are expected to either begin or be completed this year including drainage projects in the Nelson Park neighborhood and the northeast drainage ditch and the reconstruction of Main and Franklin between Wood Street and Lake Decatur. The last phase of the downtown streetscape project will begin in the late summer as will the South Shores bridge project.
The City also expects funding approval from a state revolving loan fund to make critical repairs to the Lake Shore Drive sewer, a $10 million local infrastructure improvement. The Water Department expects to continue the preventative maintenance on the Lake Decatur Dam, including the installation of a fish barrier to help prevent the entry of Asian Carp into Lake Decatur and work should begin to prepare the Oakley Sediment Basin to receive the sediment during the dredging of basins 1 and 3 of the lake.
Monday’s budget discussion occurred during a regularly scheduled study session, so no vote was taken. The council is expected to be presented with a final budget to vote on at its next regular meeting to be held on April 15.