By Bob Balgemann


Monday night’s Committee of the Whole (Public Works) meeting has the potential for receiving updates on two of several important issues facing the city.

There will be follow-up reports on water-related problems, one dealing with flooding and the other with Well No. 4.

Also on the agenda is further discussion on the storm water utility and whether one is approved by the city to help pay for treatment of storm water runoff from properties in town. This is also related to the ongoing attempt to mitigate for recurring problem of flooding, especially on the south side of town.

In a brief report at the Aug. 9 committee meeting, Public Works Director Brent Anderson said he had received an appraisal for the Franklin Display Group property, which had been shared with the property owner. “We have not gotten their response yet,” he said. “I hope to have that information for the next (public works) committee meeting.

This update had to do with the 5th Avenue Storm Detention and Relief Line project.

Earlier, Anderson said owners of Franklin Group agreed in principle to provide a storm sewer easement across the northerly edge of their property, as well as sell a portion of their property on the west of the building, to allow for construction of the storm water detention facility.

“The sale of the property and granting of the easement would be for the full appraised value of each,” he said.

The appraisal discussed Aug. 9 was for the Franklin Display Group property at 801 5th Ave., for the purpose of obtaining easements for construction of the 5th Avenue storm sewer relief line.

Well No. 4

A recent study of Well No. 4 showed it had above state and federal recommended levels of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. They are a group of chemicals that are commonly used in food packaging, commercial household products, and various common manufacturing and commercial industries. While there is no definite link between PFAS products and health, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and federal EPA has identified adverse effects in animals.

The current state and federal recommended levels of PFAS in water supplies do not yet have the force of law, Director Anderson said recently that guidance likely will become law before long.

He said the city received a preliminary scope of work recommended by Strand Associates to do a cost analysis on possible treatments for Wells 3 and 4. Earlier, it was stated that Well No. 3 exceeded the recommended state and federal levels of PFAS, the first in Belvidere to do so.

“We’ll have some discussion on that in the future,” Anderson aid. “We hope to have some direction by next month’s Public Works meeting,” which is Monday night, Sept. 13.

Alderman Wendy Frank asked if Well No. 4 was the one on Main Street.

“Correct,” Anderson answered.

“Did you say once it’s running again it will get rid of the PFAS?” she asked.

“No,” he responded.

As far as Well No. 5 goes, city council previously spending $598,780 to have Jetko Ltd. airlift it and get rid of current sand problems. This well has not been tested for the presence of PFAS because it has been offline for a while.

Utility fee

There was continued discussion of the proposed storm water utility fee at the Aug. 9 committee meeting, with aldermen ultimately voting 8-1 to table it to Monday night’s meeting. Alderman Dan Snow voted “no.”

After the committee voted 9-0 to remove the issue from the table, where it had been since Aug. 10, 2020, Anderson read from the minutes of that meeting. Previously, it had been agreed to approve the Step 2 public outreach proposal from consultant Fehr-Graham, at a cost not to exceed $37,190. Later, the first motion to table was passed.

Bringing the committee up to date on Aug. 9, Anderson said the current budget had $100,000 in it for implementing the storm water utility. He said the upcoming public outreach would educate residents and others about the utility, its purpose and benefits. “The $100,000 is still in the budget, the tasks are the same and the costs are the same,” he said. “So we’re back at the point we were one year ago.”

He then recommended approval of Step 2 of the outreach portion of the proposal.

The first question came from Alderman Ric Brereton, who asked, “For clarification. So it’s $37,190 to inform the public? Is that correct?”

“Yes,” Anderson replied. “We would be contacting our five largest land users because it is a land-based system, to calculate storm water runoff and its impacts. We would sit down with them and get their feelings on the subject. Also, we would put together an information brochure to send out to all the residents.”

“Sounds expensive,” was Brereton’s reaction.

“It is,” Mayor Clint Morris confirmed.

“Is there another way we can do this that isn’t so expensive,” Frank asked.

“That will depend on council’s direction,” Anderson answered. “I think this is a well rounded approach. Certainly we could do less and get the input. Basically, it’s a council call.”

Alderman Tom Porter said the only way he would support the proposal was if it was put to a referendum of the people.

After Anderson gave an update on the amount of rain that fell earlier Aug. 9, Snow said, “Obviously, we need to move forward on this. It goes back to last year. So, I’m going to vote ‘yes’ on the expenditure. This needs to get done.”

He added: “And on the alderman’s idea for a referendum, I think you’d find the people on the south side voting ‘yes,’ and people on the north side voting ‘no.’ You wouldn’t have a majority vote.”

Brereton referred to Anderson’s offer to talk to the companies involved, adding it would be appropriate to table a decision until after he did that.

Before the vote, City Attorney Mike Drella asked about the scope of work involved.

Anderson responded that had been broken down into eight tasks. Task 2 was the outreach component, with the estimated $37,190 cost. Now, he said the idea was to “go back to Fehr-Graham and its sub-consultants and further break down the $37,190, to see what it included and didn’t include, share that information with city council and then provide direction on whether we wanted to do A, B, C, or D of that portion, for a reduced scope, if you will, of that outreach.”

Brereton then moved to table the matter‒again‒to get that additional information, and it was approve.

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