DECATUR — The Decatur City Council approved spending $1.59 million to drill four temporary wells that the city can use as a supplemental water source during the lingering drought.
The temporary wells would also allow Black & Veatch Construction Inc. to collect data on water quality and quantity to determine whether permanent wells could be drilled at those sites. The wells are expected to supply 1.4 million to 2 million gallons of water per day.
Assistant City Manager Jerry Bauer said installation and development of all four wells would happen within 80 days. Roughly $145,000 of the money for the project is contingency spending that would be supervised by City Manager Ryan McCrady.
Two of the wells, one near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Lake Shore Drive and another at Fisherman’s Wharf, would pump directly into Lake Decatur. Two others would be located near a former sand and gravel pit the city uses as a supplemental water source and they would pump into it.
In other business, the council committed up to $80,000 toward potential legal costs that some Central Illinois communities may incur as they oppose a plan to dispose of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in Clinton Landfill.
The proposed disposal of the chemical waste unit has created fear of contamination of the Mahomet Aquifer, a water source for communities in 15 Central Illinois counties. The city pumps water out of the aquifer through a well field in DeWitt County during droughts.
Other communities that are part of the agreement include Champaign, Urbana, Normal, Bloomington, Mahomet, Savoy and the Mahomet Valley Water Authority of Piatt and DeWitt Counties.
Several council members expressed misgivings about the amount of money that Decatur would contribute, as the aquifer is not the city’s primary water source. If other communities join, the city’s percentage of the cost would lessen from 17 percent, according to a memorandum distributed to council members.
Wendy Morthland, the city’s corporation counsel, said the communities are getting involved because they disagree with the level of protection that the state Environmental Protection Agency is offering the aquifer.
“We might be in an adversarial position with IEPA, which is not necessarily where I think any of us want to be,” Morthland said. “But this agreement and what these communities are doing is ensuring that the objections and concerns with the aquifer are being covered by the IEPA’s permitting process, and I’m not sure that there is that confidence that it has been right now.”
Ultimately, all seven council members voted in favor of the measure.