Maeystown signed a contract with Fountain Water District last week to supply its residents with water, seemingly putting an end to a years-long dilemma involving the rural Monroe County village’s water supply.
An initial plan by village leaders to construct a reverse osmosis plant as a way to eliminate high nitrate levels couldn’t be done because it was too expensive, Maeystown village attorney Mary Buettner told the Republic-Times.
“While the reverse osmosis plant plan was being worked on, Fountain Water built new lines and new storage capability and now has the ability to supply Maeystown,” Buettner said. “Now that Fountain Water has the ability to supply Maeystown, that is the best and least costly solution to the nitrate problem.”
Buettner said the contract has a 20-year term, and the village still has to go through an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency permit process to build its connection to Fountain Water, plus federal and state funding processes to finalize financing.
“Our best estimate is that the connection will be operational next summer,” she said.
The plan is to keep water rates at their current level, Buettner added.
The village explored multiple options to deal with elevated nitrate levels that were identified in 2012. At the time, the Monroe County Health Department assured residents that Maeystown’s water was safe for all except pregnant women and babies under six months of age.
Shortly after the problem was discovered, the village received a $750,000 urgent need grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, as well as a separate $50,000 grant.
Fountain Water District official Wendy Hill said talks with Maeystown began back in 2012 during the initial report of high nitrate levels.
“Shortly after our initial meeting, they shifted gears, looking into the reverse osmosis option,” she said. “When that didn’t work out, they again approached Fountain toward the end of 2015.”
Special meetings were held between the two parties over the last few months to hash out details.
Hill said Fountain Water board members are expected to sign and finalize the contract with Maeystown at its upcoming meeting on June 23.
“It will benefit the customers of Maeystown, as they will once again have nitrate-free water,” Hill said.
“Fountain Water has the capacity to serve those customers and is happy to expand to their area.”
For more information on the Fountain Water District, visit www.fountainwaterdistrict.org.