Letter: What do other communities know about protecting their water source?
Peoria Journal Star Oct 22, 2017
More than 85 percent of the U.S. population is served by publicly owned water systems. Area communities that own their water systems are Morton, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Washington, Creve Coeur and Springfield.
On Aug. 24, the League of Women Voters sponsored a forum at which Tim Jeffers, East Peoria councilman and water commissioner, Springfield Mayor James Langfelder, and Ted Meckes, that city’s water division manager, spoke on how their publicly owned water systems are managed.
East Peoria has owned its water system for more than 100 years. Springfield acquired ownership in the 1860s and more recently developed a second source of water to meet its future needs. Mayor Langfelder said securing control of local water and controlling costs to users were important in their decision to continue public ownership. Leaders of both cities said the contributions to their city budgets from water revenues are an important aspect of public ownership. East Peoria’s general fund gets $500,000 annually and Springfield between $3 million and $4 million annually in excess water revenue.
Both cities hire certified staff to oversee their water operations and maintain federal and state EPA standards. Controls have been put into place to maintain reserves for upgrades and replacement infrastructure.
The Greater Peoria Sanitary District operates the local sanitary district efficiently and effectively. Can we learn from this model and operate the local water system in a like manner?
Peoria residents pay approximately half of the Midwest average for sewer services. Under Illinois American Water ownership, we pay double the state average for water. I would like to see the city of Peoria conduct a due diligence exercise to determine if owning the water system makes sense financially and operationally. What do we have to lose by looking?
View by Date