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Study to explore six water reservoir options

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Evanston aldermen Monday will be asked to fund a study to look at six possible options for improving the city’s water storage facilities.

Utilities Director Dave Stoneback, in a memo to aldermen, says previous studies have shown that portions of the concrete structure of the city’s existing 5 million gallon reservoir and 4.4 million gallon clearwell storage facility need repair.

The proposed $86,000 study by CDM Smith of Chicago is designed to determine whether the plant’s current storage capacity is sufficient — and what the best, most cost-effective approach would be to providing sufficient storage capacity in the future.

Stoneback says that while the plant has never failed to provide a continuous supply of water to customers, it only has 12 to 15 hours of storage capacity, so that any emergency lasting longer than that risks a system shutdown.

The six proposed options to be considered by the study include

  • Building a new reservoir at Leahy Park, three blocks west of the plant on Lincoln Street.
  • Building a new reservoir on a city-owned vacant lot at the corner of Sheridan Road and Milburn Street, just to the north and west of the water plant.
  • Repairing and upgrading the existing reservoir and clearwells so more of their capacity could be used in an emergency.
  • Replacing the existing reservoir at the same size in its current location.
  • Building a larger reservoir at the existing reservoir site.

Last fall aldermen were told that replacing the existing reservoir at its current location could cost as much as $26 million. A previous study had estimated that just replacing the damage concrete on reservoir’s roof would cost $4 million.

The Evanston water plant, with the possible new reservoir location at Milburn and Sheridan highlighted in red. (Google Maps image.)

While the staff memo doesn’t address the issue, the reserve capacity the water plant would need would likely be affected by any decision to expand water sales to additional communities — an opportunity the city is currently exploring.

The existing reservoir site, leased by the city from Northwestern University, is located beneath a parking lot at the north edge of the campus just across Lincoln Street from the water plant.

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