Waterloo talks water

Water was the theme of Monday’s city council meeting in Waterloo — for both business and pleasure.

Aldermen approved a consulting agreement between the city and Brubaker & Associates  to “negotiate a more competitive wholesale water supply from Illinois American Water Company” and to “assist in developing a plan to negotiate a load retention rate with the company based on a viable alternative source of water supply,” a proposal from the consulting firm explains.

Waterloo has five years remaining on a 25-year lease with Illinois American Water that ends in 2022. A rate increase on Jan. 1 made the average water bill $57.21 per month for a 6,000-gallon user in Waterloo, up from $53.45 the year before.

“The rates keep going up,” Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said. “We want to look at a more stable rate. We’re exploring all of our options. This should get the ball rolling.”

The three options Smith is referring to include staying with Illinois American Water, the city building and operating its own plant, or connecting with a nearby company such as Fountain Water District.

Smith said that prior to the city’s agreement with Illinois American Water, Waterloo ran its own water treatment plant and supplied water to residents through the city lakes at Lakeview Park. He said a severe drought 20 years ago and steady population growth led to the council’s decision at that time to partner with Illinois American Water.

The city maintains 79 miles of water lines, with a 1 million gallon water tank at the intersection of Mill and Moore streets and a 250,000 gallon elevated water tower above City Hall. The city also maintains a water intake plant off Hanover Road.

“This effort will be designed to ensure that the city is not paying costs that Illinois American Water incurs to serve other customers,” the Brubaker & Associates proposal states. “The city wholesale prices should be limited to only the cost related to the facilities actually used to provide service to the city.”

Also on Monday, a strong showing by members of Waterloo Citizens for a Pool included a synopsis of the group’s efforts to bring a state-of-the-art aquatic facility to town.

“We need you, the community,” group spokesman Kim Ahne said.

Ahne said the group has applied for 501(c)(3) designation and is looking at any and all forms of grant funding to help pay for this aquatic facility.

A capital campaign is underway, Ahne said, but a voter referendum would most likely be needed to make the facility a reality.

The Waterloo Park District has told the group it is not interested in partnering on such a referendum at this time.

Ahne proposed a hypothetical taxing district to consider for this project that would involve all residents in the 62298 zip code — branching out to rural Waterloo residents.

“Everyone wants to say they’re from Waterloo, but they don’t live in Waterloo,” Ahne said.

Creating a “62298” taxing district, which would need voter approval, would add 2,600 parcels of land.

“So, why don’t we think about maybe bringing these people who live in the 62298 zip code into this, creating a taxing district with that, which would bring in more revenue?” Ahne asked.
Ahne explained that this proposed facility would include a lazy river, competition pool, splash pads, slides and a bathhouse, appealing to all age groups.

Alderman Steve Notheisen told group leaders that the city pool saw less than 5,000 swimmers the final summer it was open, which was deemed not enough for the park district to keep it open.

Ryan Casserly of Westport Pools, who also spoke at the meeting, explained that the aquatic facilities his company builds — such as one in St. Peters, Mo., are much more than the rectangular pools most commonly built in the past.

“What we see now with these new pools is if you build them to attract multiple generations and build the right way, you’ll see attendance come up.” he said. “You want to see people attracted to a pool from ages zero to literally 100. The senior population is a big deal in a pool now. If you can get them to your facility, design it right, with zero-entry depths, things that are interactive, shade to keep them there, they will come to your pool. They will also use the pool to exercise.”

Ahne said his group holds monthly meetings, with the next one scheduled for Monday, July 10 at the Monroe County Annex. For more information on Waterloo Citizens for a Pool, visit facebook.com/Waterloocitizensforapool/ or email wcpfundraising@gmail.com.

Also, checks made out to Waterloo Citizens for a Pool can be mailed to P.O. Box 116 Waterloo, IL 62298. For more information, call 939-0440.

In other action from the meeting, the council approved pay increases of 2.75 percent for city employees in managerial positions, including the public works director, police chief, budget director and others. This increase is on par with what union employees received as part of their contract.

Aldermen also approved a resolution in support of requesting a piece of military equipment to be displayed at the Veterans Memorial in Lakeview Park sometime in the future.

“It’s an ongoing project for eight years we’ve been trying,” Smith said.

The council also gave the go-ahead on Remlok Phase 3 improvement plans and authorized the mayor to sign EPA permits. This project involves 33 lots on 36 acres off Rogers Street.

Also approved were the reappointments of Jared Nobbe, Vickie Gardner and Sharon Glessner to the library board for three-year terms.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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