Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pact Would Pipe City Water to 10,000 Illinois Customers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pact Would Pipe City Water to 10,000 Illinois Customers

Article excerpt

The city of St. Louis is preparing to take on more than 10,000 new water customers - all in Illinois.

Columbia, Ill., and the Commonfields of Cahokia Public Water District are completing an agreement to buy up to 15 million gallons of water a day from St. Louis. It will be piped to them in a 24-inch water main that will be installed under the Mississippi River.

Engineering is just now starting for the $4 million construction project, but Columbia Mayor Lester Schneider said Friday, "We hope to have it operational within a year and a half." Schneider added, "We look at this as probably the biggest thing that has happened to our water supply system in the last 40 years." St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. said Friday that the deal would benefit everyone. "We're glad that we can help citizens across the river lower their water costs, and at the same time, use our excess capacity to keep our own rates down," Bosley said. "We're glad to be taking one more step towards greater regional cooperation." But Illinois-American Water is concerned about losing two major customers. Terry Mackin, a spokesman for Illinois-American, said Friday that Columbia and Commonfields should consider things other than cost per gallon. Mackin questioned whether residents will want to rely on a single pipeline under the Mississippi as their sole water source. "Finding and repairing a leak under the river could be very costly and time-consuming, particularly in bad weather," he said. Illinois-American also questions whether construction costs might not grow far beyond initial estimates and noted that the state has regulatory control over its rates but not over those charged by St. Louis. `Good Deal For Both Sides' Columbia and Commonfields have formed a Metro East Municipal Joint Action Water Agency to sell bonds to finance the project and award contracts for construction. Schneider said savings in water cost should be enough to pay off the bonds within 10 years, maybe less. …

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