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Pekin, IL gets five wastewater con-ops bids

By Sharon Woods Harris

Times staff writer

PEKIN -- The city has yet to determine which way the city's wastewater plant operation contract will flow.

Bids have come in from four companies including United Water, the current operator, Earth Tech, Illinois-American Water Co., and EMC. The city has also prepared its own bids with the help of engineering firm Farnsworth Group. The United Water contract expires in August and the city wants to know now if it would be cheaper to bring the work in-house, stay with the current operator or go with another bidder.

City Manager Dennis Kief said he will be ready at the council's next meeting on April 25 to make a presentation to the council on the best way to save the city money on wastewater treatment.

"I have no recommendations at this time," said Kief of the complex bids received. "There are a lot of rumors out there." Kief said he had the assistance of city engineers, Farnsworth Group and City Commissioner Fred Massaglia, who is in the sewer business.

The city pays United Water about $1.1 million each year to operate the wastewater treatment plant. The city owns that facility, but has contracted out operations since 1993 when it reached a 10-year agreement with United Water.

The city started wastewater treatment at the plant in 1939. The plant has been expanded and renovated several times since opening. The city now owns Wastewater Treatment Plant 1 on lower Front Street, and Plant 2 on Illinois Route 98. It also operates 11 wastewater lift stations as well as a pre-treatment facility at the Federal Correctional Institute-Pekin; and five combination sewer overflows.

It maintains 85 miles of separate sanitary sewers and about 20 miles of combination sewers.

Mayor Lyn Howard has said he will support bringing the operation in-house if there is enough savings to the city.

He said the city is working to bring up the reserves for an upcoming $2.5 million-$3 million upgrade to the facility, as is required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.