Chicago to Potentially Supply Joliet, Illinois, With Lake Michigan Drinking Water

Dec. 29, 2020

Chicago gave preliminary approval to a proposal that could bring in new revenue if Joliet chooses Chicago over Hammond.

On Dec. 28, 2020, Chicago aldermen gave preliminary approval to a proposal to provide drinking water from Lake Michigan to Joliet, Illinois, reported CBS Chicago. 

The aquifer that supplies Joliet’s drinking water is expected to dry up by 2030. 

The City Council Finance Committee unanimously approved a preliminary agreement with Joliet to tap into Chicago's water supply, according to CBS Chicago. Joliet is currently in talks with the city of Chicago and the city of Hammond to provide water from Lake Michigan.

According to Chicago Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett, Joliet would be responsible for paying for the entire $592 million to $810 million cost of construction. This would take about two years. 

The agreement would require construction of an additional infrastructure at the city’s Southwest Pumping Station next to Durkin Park, as well as a 31-mile pipeline. The city and Joliet are negotiating details of improvements to Durkin Park, according to Bennett. 

This could mean converting the baseball diamond into a new soccer field or potentially even replacing the park.

The proposed agreement with Joliet allows for two options. The first option would provide approximately 31 million gallons of water per day for residents and businesses in Joliet, according to the CBS Chicago. The other option would provide approximately 60 million gallons a day for Joliet and several surrounding areas that also currently rely on well water.

Chicago would then charge Joliet customers based on the cost of providing service, providing nearly $30 million a year in revenue for Chicago.

Bennett did not provide details of Hammond’s bid, but according to published reports, the proposal would require construction of a 48-mile pipeline and a filtration plant in Joliet.

The Hammond proposal would cost Joliet approximately $1.2 billion, reported CBS Chicago. 

Joliet would be able to set its own rates to supply water to customers and provide a source of jobs for Joliet residents at the water filtration plant.

Joliet is expected to make its final decision next month, according to Bennett. If Joliet chooses Chicago, the City Council would have to sign off on a final agreement next year. 

Read related content about Chicago drinking water:

About the Author

Cristina Tuser