Rethink Water Joliet FAQs
Who conducted the alternative water source study?
The City of Joliet conducted the alternative water source study in multiple phases (Phase I, Phase II and the 2020 Evaluation) to evaluate alternative sources for its water supply. During Phase I and Phase II the City’s Environmental Commission worked with staff to evaluate the alternatives and recommend to the City Council a course of action for the City Council to consider. In January 2020, the City Council elected to evaluate two Lake Michigan water source alternatives in more depth as part of the 2020 Evaluation. Upon completion of the 2020 Evaluation in January 2021, the City Council approved the selection of purchasing finished Lake Michigan water from the City of Chicago.
How can I stay updated on the program?
By visiting RethinkWaterJoliet.org you’ll find current news. You are also encouraged to follow us on social media where you will find program updates, Rethink Water Joliet events, and ways to conserve water each day. Sign up for our mailing list and you will receive Program updates through email.
What is the City’s current water source?
Right now, Joliet receives its water from the Ironton-Galesville aquifer. It is anticipated that this source will no longer be sustainable by 2030. Rethink Water Joliet completed a study that evaluated alternative water sources.
Why is the study being conducted?
Data from the Illinois State Water Survey indicates that at the current rate of usage, the deep well aquifer in the Joliet region will no longer be sustainable by 2030. Relying on deep wells for the majority of its water supply, the City of Joliet’s need to develop an alternative water source is present now more than ever. As the third most populous city in Illinois, Joliet has the ability to lead the way in sustainable water sourcing throughout the region.
What alternative water sources were examined?
Initially, fourteen alternative water sources were evaluated during Phase I of the study. During Phase II, five sources were studied in more detail to replace the existing water source in Joliet. This included Lake Michigan – DuPage Water Commission, Lake Michigan – City of Chicago, Lake Michigan – New Indiana Intake, the Kankakee River, and the Illinois River. In January 2020, the Joliet City Council selected Lake Michigan water and directed staff to simultaneously evaluate the New Indiana Intake and City of Chicago alternatives as part of the 2020 Evaluation. In January 2021, the City Council approved the selection of purchasing finished water from the City of Chicago.
When will construction begin?
Construction of improvements will be completed in phases. The initial phases of construction are anticipated to begin in 2024 at the Southwest Pumping Station site in Chicago. The full program implementation schedule is available HERE.
I have friends that live on the other side of the city, will we be supplied new water in different years?
No. Construction of the new water system is projected to take five years. Once construction is complete the system will be tested and the new source will be distributed to the entire city at the same time.
The City selected a water source, why wait 5 years before starting construction?
Switching the City’s water supply from groundwater wells to Lake Michigan is a huge undertaking that must be completed thoroughly. There are many items that need to be completed including land acquisition, design engineering, permitting, environmental investigations, geotechnical investigations, and surveying before construction can begin. Check out our implementation schedule.
Will I still have access to water during construction?
Yes, water will still be available during construction. When we get closer to the start of construction, we will provide more information on what to expect during the transition to Lake Michigan water.
Will the pipes in my house need to change?
No, the change of water source will not require you to change anything inside your home. However, the City has a lead service line inventory and replacement program to mitigate risk associated with lead services. Click here for more information on the City’s Lead Service Replacement Program.
How will this affect my water bill?
The current average monthly water bill in 2021 is $34.00. In 2030, with Lake Michigan water purchased from the City of Chicago, it is estimated the average water bill will increase by an additional $44 to $54 per month. These bill increases are being further studied and refined as the program progresses.
What does my utility bill include?
When will my water bill start increasing?
The City Council has already approved water rate increases in the amount of 10.5% annually on November 1, 2019, November 1, 2020 and November 1, 2021. Additional water rate increases will be evaluated after 2021 to fund this project.
How will this project be funded?
A combination of funding sources is anticipated to be used for this project, including Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), State Revolving Fund (SRF), and bonds. WIFIA is a federal low interest loan program for large water projects. SRF is a state low interest loan program administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).
What are the benefits of Lake Michigan water versus Joliet’s existing well water supply?
The new treated Lake Michigan Water supply will have a more aesthetically pleasing water quality, with lower hardness and less potential for scaling of water fixtures. For water customers that have home water softeners, these will no longer be necessary.
Flint, Michigan had so many issues when it switched water sources. What is Joliet going to do to prevent those issues from happening here?
The City of Joliet is doing everything it can to mitigate the risk associated with switching water sources so that water customers, in particular those with lead services, are not impacted by the switch. Activities include conducting a desktop corrosion control study as well as in place corrosion control testing using harvested watermains and lead services from Joliet’s water distribution system.
What are some ways I can conserve water?
There are many ways you can help. Here are a couple of ways to conserve water every day:
Hand washing a lot of dishes? Fill up your sink with water instead of letting it run the whole time that you’re scrubbing.
Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Water comes out of the average faucet at 2.5 gallons per minute. Don’t let all that water go down the drain.
Don’t run the dishwasher/washing machine until its full. Those half loads add up to gallons and gallons of wasted water.
Take shorter showers.
Install water saving shower heads and low flow faucets.
Replace old toilets with new water efficient models
Check faucets and toilets for leaks – then repair them.
Get a rain barrel and have free water for watering your lawn and garden and washing your car.
Place a layer of mulch around trees and plants.
Use a broom instead of the hose to clean driveways, sidewalks and steps.