Aldermen, Filer discuss matters related to city water supply

The Vandalia City Council discussed just about all aspects of the city’s water distribution during its Monday meeting.
The discussion started when Alderman Dorothy Crawford, chairman of the council’s water and sewer committee, reported on a “massive leak” late last week that “almost emptied both towers.”
Public Works Director Marlin Filer said that a city worker discovered the leak on a fire line for the Purina property on Friday, and Crawford said that the city’s water department was “able to recover fully” from the incident.
On the issue of water leaks, Filer encouraged residents to help out when they notice what might be signs of a leak.
“If any of the public sees water in an odd place, in a ditch or running down a hill, please contact us,” Filer said.
“Because some of these leaks we look for for weeks, sometimes for months, and we never find them, and then, all of a sudden, one of our systems will come across it,” he said.
“These lines can leak for blocks at a time and you never see it,” Filer said.
Encouraging help from city residents, he said, “If it looks strange, call us.”
Alderman Andy Lester continued discussion on the water issue, saying that he has learned a lot about the city’s distribution system after talking recently with Filer and Water Plant Superintendent Marty Huskey.
What he learned is that the city needs to have a plan for addressing issues with its distribution system.
“Do we have a game plan or have we discussed at any kind of detail how we might start thinking about replacing some of this infrastructure?” Lester asked.
Lester said that he learned that there are places where some new water mains are next to old mains, but not yet tapped into the distribution system.
Filer said that they have “eliminated most of these” issues.
“The big problem is aging water lines,” Filer said. “Some of these lines are 50, 60 years old.”
Crawford said that she has talked with Filer and Huskey recently about the city’s infrastructure issues. Learning of those issues, she said, “One of my main objections to a new water plant is the infrastructure is not there.
“There is no point in spending all of this money on a water plant if we’re going to blow out every water main in the city. I support anything we can do on infrastructure,” Crawford said.
Lester asked about the status of Kaskaskia Springs Water Co. providing water to the city. He said it was his understanding that the city is receiving 100 gallons a minute, and that he wonders whether the city could get more.
“I think it needs to be addressed,” Lester said.
Alderman Steve Barker said he was told recently that Kaskaskia Springs Water is about at its limit as to what it can provide.
Mayor Rick Gottman said that there are others getting water from that source and, “We need to make sure we don’t suck the other people dry.”
Lester said, “Do we need a third well? Is that possible?”
City Administrator LaTisha Paslay reminded Lester that in addition to paying Kaskaskia Springs Water for their water, the city also pays the electricity costs tied to getting that water and the maintenance on pumps.
wGottman said that the city’s long-term water supply system is one of the issues in the comprehensive plan and that one of the city’s goals is to again getting the Kaskaskia River intake working properly, as it costs the city less to process that water than that pulled from Vandalia Lake.
“We need to look at the whole big picture,” Lester said.

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