Village Dedicates New Water Plant


Village officials, staff, and residents raise their glasses at the dedication of the new water plant. (Photo: Richard Whitehead)

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Village officials held a dedication for the new Water Supply and Treatment Plant on Saturday, November 3. Staff members from the water plant and engineers from Baxter & Woodman were available throughout the afternoon to take residents on tours of the facility, which is now fully operational. Baxter & Woodman coordinated with Carollo Engineers to design the project. More than 60 people were in attendance for the dedication, and all were invited to toast the opening of the water plant with … a glass of water.

In his remarks to those gathered for the occasion, Mayor John Ostenburg credited State Senator Maggie Crotty for assisting the Village of Park Forest to secure a low-interest loan so the plant could be built. Crotty’s efforts will save tax payers $5 million in interest over the course of the loan, according to Ostenburg.

"State Senator Maggie Crotty came to our rescue," Ostenburg said. Crotty arranged for a meeting with Renee Cipriano, who was then head of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and it was during that meeting that the loan was secured.

Ron Erickson, Chief Water Plant Operator, thanked his family, the entire crew who work at the plant, as well as the residents of Park Forest, "Really what I’d like to do today is acknowledge a lot of people." Erickson said he thought the Village made a wise choice. Elsewhere, he said, "there’s more allocations and less water to go around. We’ve got as much water as we need. When you turn on the faucet, there’s no watering bans, there’s no ‘odd/even days.’ You can go ahead, use the water."

The new plant was built on land directly adjacent to the old plant. "To be able to be in the old building and see this rise was very, very exciting," Erickson said.

"I’d like to thank the residents," Erickson concluded, "At times we put the residents through a little extra grief – especially during the changeover, when we moved from the old plant to the new one. We had a period of time there that was pretty rough. At this point, I can say to the residents we’re giving you a good, high quality drinking water product. The hardness is where it should be. The pumping pressure is where it should be. We’re stable, water main breaks are down. The hardness is comparable to or better than Lake Michigan water, without some of the problems that come with surface water."

Dave Bartlett, who lives on Water Street, was able to watch – and hear – the construction of the new plant from his back yard, “It was worth it.  It seems like the staff is on the ball as far as providing us with good water.” Bartlett was one of several residents who stayed after the dedication to take a tour of the new facility.

Was this a better choice than going with Lake Michigan or other alternatives?  “Yes, I always liked Park Forest water.  My only concern is the aquifer that we’re getting it from, the stability of that aquifer,” Bartlett said.

Surprisingly, every resident who took the tour said the plant was worth the cost. 

Resident Barbara McDermott said she really enjoyed the tour of the water treatment plant.  "It’s good for the village, it’s good for conserving water.  I like the fluoride in the water too.”  Regarding the expense, she added, “I think in the long term it’s a better decision.  In the short term it’s a little uncomfortable with the water bills, but, long term, I think it’s a very wise fiscal decision.

Barbara Stevens, who serves on the Senior Commission, said, “I think it’s wonderful.  I think every kid, every resident in Park Forest should see it.  I was very impressed.”  When asked whether the end result was worth the price, she added, “Absolutely.  I often wondered, I couldn’t make up my mind.  But after hearing this gentleman, I was very impressed.  I think we did the right thing.”

Those in attendance enjoyed refreshments, received souvenirs, participated in a raffle and got a first hand look at the new facility as Erickson and other plant staff members conducted tours.

Construction of the project started in October of 2005 with transitioning from the old plant to the new facility beginning in spring of 2007.  The 15.6 million dollar water plant provides the residents Park Forest with water that meets or exceeds all federal standards.

The new plant is expected to serve the village for an estimated 40 to 50 years.

Consulting Engineers Baxter & Woodman recently submitted this project for an American Council of Engineers – Illinois , Engineering Excellence Award.