By Bob Balgemann


It didn’t used to be this way but it is now, and it causes city officials to continually be on their toes to keep up with rapidly changing technology, while minding the bottom line cost.

Take the wastewater treatment plant as an example.

The current capital improvements program includes the installation of a Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, to monitor sewer plant operations. The estimated cost to provide SCADA for the entire plant is $300,000.

That’s the easy part.

Enter the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) issuing the Rebuild Illinois Competitive Public Infrastructure Grant Program. This opportunity offers up to $50 million in single grant awards, ranging from $250,000 to $5 million.

Public Works Director Brent Anderson’s idea was to submit a grant application to fund the entire SCADA system at the treatment plant. He wanted to add the SCADA work to the existing Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) loan project, increasing the estimated cost of that project to $4.3 million. So, the city’s request to the new DCEO grant program would be $750,000, leaving $3.550 million to be funded by the IEPA loan.

The initial step, which has been approved by city council in a 9-0 vote, is a work order from Baxter & Woodman to complete design of the SCADA system, at a cost of $30,000. Also, preparing and submitting a grant application for DCEO funding would take another $10,000, for a total of $40,000.

Director Anderson made an extensive presentation at a recent committee of the whole meeting. Essentially, the SCADA system will provide a fiber optic connection to all buildings

There was minimal discussion.

Alderman Tom Porter asked for an explanation of the IEPA loan. “I didn’t think we were borrowing anything from anyone,” he said.

In response, Anderson said the city actually had applied for the IEPA loan one year ago, or a little earlier. “We were pushed back because there were more applicants than funds available,” he explained.

The city in the past utilized that program for digester-aeration improvements to the sewer plant. In conjunction with that project, IEPA gave the city 15 percent forgiveness of the loan amount, which he said didn’t have to be repaid. “We have used this in the past; it’s a 20-year payback.”

Officials have identified the following projects to be funded by the IEPA loan:

  • Replacement of the raw sewage pumps, valves, and gates in the main equipment building.
  • Secondary anaerobic digester cover and mixing equipment replacement.

Design for replacing the digester cover will be part of the project, according to information provided by Baxter & Woodman (B&W), consulting engineers. The cover originally was installed in 1987 and has been in continuous service since that time.

The design also will include (a) mixing and gas safety equipment for the secondary digester and (b) the aforementioned replacement of raw sewage pumps, valves and gates. In addition, lights in the pump room at the main equipment building.

Design for the SCADA system also is part of the package. Fiber optic connections will be provided to all buildings that have either existing or new custom control panels.

Finally, B&W will assist the city in preparing an application and supporting documentation for $750,000 funding through the Rebuild Illinois Competitive Grant Program, which is administered by DCEO.

Software upgrade

City officials learned not long ago that their public works software was not compatible with changes being made by Cartegraph, which is moving to a cloud-based system. Cartegraph provides the software the city uses on a daily basis to manage citizen requests, work orders, assets, and mapping interface.

Public Works Director Anderson reported cost of the new software would be $13,955.05, with an additional $8,130 needed to transfer the city’s existing data and to implement the new system. The total is $22,085.05.

But the city’s Community Development Dept. recently migrated its software from GovQA to iWorQ. “They have been extremely pleased with the iWorQ platform,” he said of those city employees. Cost of that software and transferring the city’s current data would total $21,500, or $585.05 less than Cartegraph.

Anderson’s recommendation to accept the iWorQ proposal was approved by both the committee and city council, in unanimous votes and without discussion.



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