MOWEAQUA — Sunday marked a watershed moment in Moweaqua history.
The village celebrated the completion of its new $2.6 million water treatment plant. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony and then tours of the new facility with complimentary food and, of course, refreshments.
The new plant is part of a major overhaul of the village’s water supply that includes a new wells and involved building work that took 13 months to complete.
Moweaqua Mayor Boomer Neece described the plant as a bridge to the future: “We have to have good utilities, like water, to bring in business and support growth,” he said. “Now I think we’re a couple of steps ahead.”
The mayor can plumb the depths of his subject well because his day job involves working for the Sanitary District of Decatur as a plant operator.
“Take nitrate levels, which were getting high and have been high in every community,” added Neece, 47. “We didn’t have a way to treat it and now, with this new plant, we do. That also makes us a step ahead of a lot of other communities in that respect, too.”
And there’s more: the new plant offers phosphate treatment to control contaminants such as lead and copper and, for the first time, water softening for what has traditionally been some of the hardest water in the area.
Village water superintendent Louis Jordan said he now has a fully computer-controlled water system he can monitor in real time on his phone and even control from his phone. And there is plenty of capacity to handle future needs. “The village uses anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 gallons a day and we can produce 488,000 gallons a day through this plant,” added Jordan, 61.
Even in this watery Garden of Eden there is a serpent, however, and someone has to pay the new plant’s price tag. Village monthly water rates will go up a total of $16 when all is said and done and $8 of that increase has already been in place for the last two years.
The water plant was largely funded through a loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s “Public Water Supply Loan Program” and comes with a very low — 1.86 percent — interest rate. And now there’s more good news on that front. “We were given $750,000 in loan forgiveness,” said Jordan. “Which means that $750,000 is more or less like a grant,” added Neece.
The dozens of villagers who came to tour the plant Sunday didn’t seem bothered by the cost, however it finally drains out. “It’s all worth it,” said Debbie Wiseman, 54. “You just want to be able to turn on the tap and know that it is good water you are drinking.”