Acting Deputy City Manager Dave Stoneback told 1st Ward residents Thursday night that parts of the ward are in for some “painful, dusty, dirty, bumpy” conditions this year as the city replaces a nearly 90-year-old 30-inch diameter water main.
Stoneback said the main runs west from the water plant on Lincoln Street, then a block south across the Northwestern University campus to Colfax Street, then west to Sherman Avenue, south to Emerson Street, west to Benson Avenue and south to Davis Street.
The city, he added, has just been awarded a $10.1 million low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to fund the project.
Bolder Contractors, which did a sewer replacement project on Davis Street a few years ago, will be doing the work for the city. Stoneback said that in some places the city will be rehabilitating the existing cast iron pipe by putting a liner inside it.
But in other areas the old pipe will have to be completely removed and replaced. The new pipe will come in 20-foot lengths and will have to be stored on the street while it’s awaiting installation.
He said the initial work will start on Colfax Street where an existing six-inch water main is in the way of the project and will have to be relocated and replaced.
Stoneback said much of the work near the Northwestern University campus will be scheduled to take place over the summer when traffic to campus is at its lowest levels.
The southernmost section of the project, on Benson Avenue, Stoneback said, won’t take place until next winter, after the holiday shopping season. More information about the project is available on the city’s website.
In response to a question, Stoneback said the city “has a very robust water distribution system downtown” and doesn’t need to expand its capacity to accommodate the increasing number of downtown residents.
He said that because of the increased use of water-saving plumbing devices, water usage is actually decreasing, despite the increase in residents — a pattern that’s also being repeated elsewhere across the country.
He said the city also requires new developments to provide storm water detention systems — underground vaults that store storm water and release it slowly — so that they don’t surcharge the sewer system and cause flooding.