Illinois – The city of Joliet and five surrounding Will County communities plan to tap Lake Michigan to shore up dwindling drinking-water supplies.
The communities will purchase treated Lake Michigan water from Chicago that will be delivered via 65 miles of pipeline. The $1.4 billion project is currently in the design phase, with an expected completion date in 2030.
County officials warned that the accessible water supply will be depleted in less than 10 years, but drilling wells is not a viable solution because of the high salt content in the deeper aquifer layers. Additionally, shallower aquifer layers are at risk of contamination from road salt runoff, officials have said.
The over-extraction of easily accessible groundwater continues to prompt local and state governments in Illinois and elsewhere to evaluate water limits and examine alternate water policies.
After careful consideration of more than a dozen options for a new water source, sourcing Lake Michigan water from Chicago was the best option, officials said.
Project financing is a mix of state and federal loans and bond issues. The communities will pay a share of the construction cost. Additionally, commission members will pay Chicago for the water they use, roughly $30 million annually.