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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.

Related story

Projected cost of water reservoir project soars 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. City leasing waterr plant land from NW

    Please disclose the amount paid by Evanston to Northwestern for this lease.  I am appalled that Northwestern, who presumably uses our water along with other city sewrvices, charges the city for this land.

    1. Reservoir lease

      Hi David,

      I've seen a copy of the lease but can't locate it at the moment. As I recall, the city has paid, at most, a token amount, perhaps $1 a year, to lease the space the reservoir is on from the university since 1934.

      The university currently pays for the water it uses, like other customers do.

      You might also be interested to read in Frances Willard's "A Classic Town: The Story of Evanston" that in about 1873 the university donated to the city the land the water plant itself sits on. That and more detail about the early history of the city's water plant starts on page 162 of her book.

      — Bill

      1. Water plant lease

        Thanks for the prompt info–I am relieved to hear it is a token  payment, as it should be.  Thaks again, Bill.

      2. Reservoir lease

        Aww Bill, there you go ruining another "Northwestern is a parasite on the city of Evanston" claim…

      3. Lease For Water Reservoir
        The city back in 1934 – gave Northwestern a city street running from Sheridan road to the lake through its campus, it also closed down a public beach by the water Reservoir as part of the deal on land it was leasing from NU. It appears today that beach would be the area which NU now use as beach.

        What is more interesting it appears the city proposals for the water tank, to move it only include moving it to city property, At one point NU was offering a site on Long field.

        I looks like the Mayor would like to give NU the property the tank sits on back for free? And do a unnecessary project at the taxpayers expense?

        1. A street “running through it’s campus”?

          Are you referring to Lincoln St.?  If so, Lincoln does not run through campus; it forms the northern border of the campus.  It also provides access to the water plant because everything north of Lincoln is city land. Without Lincoln, how would people get to the plant?   And, by the way, because of severe weight restrictions on Lincoln (because of the tank underneath), Northwestern is unable to use it for any heavy truck traffic coming in to the campus– it all must come through other roads.  This creates a dangerous situation when you have cement mixers and other big equipment driving on what amount to alleys that also have heavy auto, pedestrain and bike traffic.

          As for giving NU the property where the tank is located "back for free", when was it the city's property to give to NU?  As I understand it, the location was always NU property, and they leased it to the city for $1/year.  

  2. Alderperson Grover and Leahy Park for the water tank
    Alderperson Grover the 7th ward alderperson whose ward this tank sits in, ( I am resident of the ward) has done nothing to communicate this study of Leahy Park to the residents of her ward. She recently held a silly ward meeting on Myth busting?? and sent of a newletter to residents clearly produced by the city staff over the last few weeks.

    Since she sits on the administrative and Public works committee, I will be interested on Monday night to hear her take on this issue. If typical she will have little to say, and approve it to move on.

    When the parents and other that use the park find out, they would close it for two years- to build a tank, she will try to back petal and make excuses, just like when they tried to close the north branch library or sell Harley Clarke.

    As a 7th ward resident I have to wonder who Jane works for the citizens or special interests?

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