Thursday, November 11, 2010

As reported last week, we have to explore the intricacies of sanitary sewer programs once again. Not because most of us are particularly interested in such sewer repair, nor do we have time for it, but because the Mayor, City Councilmen and the City Manager have not been doing their job of looking out for us on the Sewer Program.

So, as we get into the muck once again, let’s see what's new since we met at the Public Works building in 2008...

It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Highland Park isn't the only city to have an aging infrastructure. We asked for information about this at the meeting at the Public Works but no one could provide an answer then about comparisons with other communities. According to a report submitted to City Management in JULY 2009 by AECOM:

"many municipalities in Northern Illinois and the rest of the county are reducing inflow and infiltration (I/I) by implementing programs to repair sanitary laterals along with sanitary sewer mains. These programs vary from I/I identification only to full repair programs on private property. Determining factors for implementing a program includes lateral ownership and funding sources."

So let's look at Downer's Grove, today's example of how another community handles the sanitary lateral line infrastructure needs per the AECOM report:

"property owner owns sanitary lateral up to the mainline sewer. The Village targets selective neighborhoods for lateral inspections and repair if necessary. The Village then pays for any lateral repairs…”

Hmmm. Downers Grove Village management knows where to place the financial burden for infrastructure. The City of Highland Park doesn’t. Amazing!

AECOM provided other examples of communities who pay for repairs to laterals or who develop other funding mechanisms for it. Yes, they also point out other communities that require individual residents to pay for sanitary lateral line repairs, but let's just say for now that if you want to move to a community that forces individual residents to pay for repairs, you can move to Austin, Texas.

A couple of other thoughts today…

  • The AECOM report was issued to the City in July 2009. Why is the Sewer Program "on hiatus" until an undetermined time in 2011 for budget discussions? There is enough in this report to know that many other communities do NOT require individual residents to pay. How much time does it take for the City Council to say "we'll fix the sewers but without targeting individual residents to pay"? That’s a 15 minute agenda item, especially when so many HP Councilman sought our votes based on their opposition to the Sewer Program. It is is nearly two years later and they have done nothing but put the program on a hiatus!!!

o City Council can leave the budget discussions to 2011 to determine how the CITY is going to budget for these improvements, but the Councilmen should go on record now and vote to eliminate the provision requiring individual residents to pay and to reimburse the residents who were previously coerced into paying.

  • If the City had the AECOM report in July 2009, why didn't they provide it directly to residents who had complained? Even if they didn't know everyone who attended the SRO only meetings at the Public Works building, they certainly should have provided this info, in a timely way, to the people whom they knew and who were easily accessible and we could shared with others.

Finally, this blog allows for comments. The Mayor (who had previously posted a comment prior to this second round on the Sanitary Sewer Program - thank you, Mayor Mike!), Councilmen, and City management are especially encouraged to provide comments and go on record with where you stand. All readers, whether you agree or disagree are encouraged to join in the dialogue.

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