I’d like to take this opportunity to update you on the Oak Lawn Water Infrastructure Improvement project, which began in 2013 and is on-track to be completed by 2023.
As you may know, Tinley Park purchases its water from Oak Lawn, which in turn gets it from Chicago. Once complete, the infrastructure improvements to the Oak Lawn water system will benefit all of its customer communities, including Tinley Park, by meeting the future water demands of the region’s growing population.
The new system will have dual, redundant feeds; more modern and efficient pump stations; and significantly larger capacity. It will also provide backup power at pumping stations and address safety concerns and fire flow deficiencies. These are all improvements that will make the system better and more reliable not just for Tinley Park residents, but the tens of thousands of other customers served by the system.
So far, $143 million of the total project has been completed or is under contract. Completed portions include the addition of new pump stations and additional capacity and reliability. To be completed over the next few years is the addition of transmission mains with interconnects for additional capacity and redundancy between existing and new systems.
There has been a lot of really great intergovernmental cooperation with this project. In addition to working with the other customer communities to protect the interests of our respective communities, we also worked with ComEd to save about $2 million on soil re-spreading, negotiated a land-use license with the Forest Preserve District, and worked with IDOT to expedite some of the reviews, which can often be a delay on projects of this size.
The customer communities, including Tinley Park, also brought on a third-party engineer to review and work alongside the Oak Lawn engineer. We hired Christopher Burke Engineering for this task, and this addition has helped us realize more efficiencies and save a lot more money than we would have otherwise.
As the project has progressed, there have been a few cost increases. Because costs aren’t equally distributed to all customers, we aren’t necessarily going to pay the same rates as other customer communities. For example, a portion of the project in Orland Park needed a pipe diameter increase, but since the change benefited Orland Park, they covered a portion of the pipe re-alignment costs.
You’re probably wondering how this is going to impact your water bill. Keep in mind that the Oak Lawn system is just one part of our water rate cost, and we’ll likely still need to increase rates due to capital expenditures for the Tinley Park portion of the system, increased operating costs, as well as what Chicago charges for the cost of water. We’ll have a clearer picture of the rate increases needed as the project nears completion.
Ultimately, these improvements will help Tinley Park residents now and into the future as we continue to grow. Water is our most precious commodity, and we need to make sure we’re doing everything to ensure the Village has a clean, safe, steady supply for years to come.