By Bob Balgemann


The city has seven wells to serve its residents, and right now, there have been problems with three of them. Due to sufficient rain – as long as it doesn’t fall in buckets like it did July 23 – the water supply has been in adequate supply.

Public Works Director Brent Anderson gave the committee of the whole an update on problem areas during its Sept. 12 meeting.

Repairing equipment is a big part of this job, and it can be expensive. For example, repairs to well No. 4, at 317 N. Main St., which was the most recent problem, will require $100,299 to fix.

While the cost may seem high, the money will come out of the water system depreciation account, which has $1.8 million in it.

As explained by Director Anderson, well No. 4 developed “stray voltage” and was shut down Aug. 15. It turned out there was a short in the motor. That meant pulling the well out of the ground to confirm the diagnosis, which was done by Great Lakes Water Resources.

In addition, a great deal of iron build-up was found on the pump, which meant treatment was needed. So, a sample of the iron bacteria was taken and sent to a lab for analysis and recommended treatment.

Results should have been available for the Sept. 19 city council meeting.

At that point the cost to pull the pump, make necessary repairs and reinstall the pump was estimated at $100,299.

Included in that cost was the addition of a soft-start motor system, which is expected to prolong the life of the equipment and increase the warranty from one to three years.

Committee members recommended approval of the expenditure, plus treatment for the iron bacteria once it is known.

Anderson reported Well No. 7 stopped pumping on Aug. 25 and said, “It was just put back on line a few months ago, so it was a shock when it stopped pumping.”

The manufacturer’s representative was to determine the problem, with Great Lakes doing the repairs. The well, on East Second Street, still was under warranty, and he said it should be back on line by Sept. 21.

In addition, he said Well No. 5 was losing pumping capacity.

“We’ll probably have to pull it out of the ground,” he said, adding that it, too, remained under warranty.

In a follow-up interview, he summed up the situation by saying, “We currently have two wells that are down and one more that is not pumping to capacity. Fortunately, we are not in a dry spell, and we can keep up with normal demand.”

Director Anderson also provided an update on repairing the Newburg Road Bridge, which is scheduled to be done next summer.

First, he said the possible presence of the black sand shell mussel threatened to delay repairs. Now, the American brook lamprey may, or may not, be in the Kishwaukee River.

Neither is a protected species, nor is it on an endangered list.

He said the repairs and maintenance of the bridge are being done to extend its life.

“We’ve been trying to do this for several years,” he said. “We’re working with DNR (the Illinois Department of Natural Resources) to mitigate this, so we can do the work next summer.”

News of the possible presence of the lamprey brought a quip from Mayor Mike Chamberlain, who said, “Those of you enjoy sushi get your little nets and head out to the river.”

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, this particular eel-like lamprey long has been a source of food for people and was “greatly appreciated by ancient Romans.”

On a more serious note, Alderman Mark Sanderson asked, “How bad is the bridge?”

Anderson replied the work is more of a rehabilitation-maintenance nature.

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