COVID-19, Environmental, Local, Park Forest, Science, Technology

A Tower Rises in the Village

leaf lifted to new water tower
A leaf is lifted in early August to the new elevated water storage tank. (Photo: Chief Water Plant Operator Wendy Schafer)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A tower rises in the Village of Park Forest. The new water edifice is currently under construction just east of the Water Plant and will replace the in-ground storage tank nearby. It will hold half-a-million gallons of water once completed, according to Director of Public Works Roderick Ysaguirre.

The project shows in the 2022/2023 Capital Plan at $3.389 million. The engineering behind the project was $124,450. According to Village Manager Tom Mick, the project came together through funding from the CARES Act of 2020 (a COVID-19 aid and relief project from the federal government), allocations from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), a low-interest IEPA loan, and local funds.

A worker welds leaves of the new water tower together.
A worker welds leaves of the new water tower together beside the blue dome of the current concrete storage tank. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

The original concrete storage tank structure is developing stress cracks, is leaking, and is reaching the end of its design life, according to Village engineers.

Another water tower was built several years ago at Autumn Ridge to boost water pressure for that neighborhood. It was former Trustee Katie Armstrong who spoke up at a budget meeting after Fire personnel shared concerns about water pressure in case of a structure fire at the Autumn Ridge Apartments. The Park Forest Fire Department and Public Works called for the project and Trustee Armstrong suggested at the time that the board consider prioritizing that tower.

As a member of that board at that time, I recall we all agreed.

Water storage tower
The water storage tower from west of the Water Treatment Plant. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

The Village is not building this tower because of concerns regarding water pressure. Currently treated water flows from the water treatment plant to the concrete storage tank and then, as needed, flows back to the plant where it is shot into the system via two high-intensity pumps. When the new tower goes online, these pumps will be used instead to fill the storage tower. Water will then flow to the distribution system from the tower, this time pressurized by gravity.

Rows of solar panels
Rows of solar panels like this one in the field west of the Water Treatment Plant necessitated the Village reaching upward for the new water storage tank. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

All in all, this appears to be a good move for the Village of Park Forest. But why a water tower? Why not another in-ground concrete tank?

Solar panels west of the Water Treatment Plant.
Solar panels west of the Water Treatment Plant. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

According to Chief Water Plant Operator Wendy Schafer, up was the only direction possible after a solar panel array was built on the land west of the Water Plant. The Village will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the solar panel array on September 19, Monday, at 6:00 PM. These solar panels are slated to save the Village over $56,000 a year, offsetting the energy demand for the Water Treatment Plant by 45% according to current estimates.

We will have more on the solar panel unveiling and that project in general shortly.