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$40M sewer construction project presented to Wheaton City Council

WHEATON – The Wheaton Sanitary District is slowly but surely moving towards beginning its $40 million sewer construction project to replace more than five miles of pipeline in Wheaton and parts of Glen Ellyn.

Members of the district and its consulting firms presented the most recent preliminary design to the Wheaton City Council on Sept. 9 and outlined its latest possible trajectory.

"We have an old sanitary sewer that's reached the end of its design life and we are in the process of making plans to make replacements that extend from the wastewater plant near Shaffner and Mack roads northeasterly into Carol Stream," Steve Maney, the executive director of district, said. "It generally follows the Winfield Creek route out from the plant."

The process will involve replacing older pipes, remnants of a pair of projects dating back to 1926 and 1963, with larger, newer ones, some as big as 48 inches across. The hope, Maney said, was not only to update the system but to help with flooding problems by increasing capacity and flow by as much as 40 percent in some areas.

That will not come quickly or cheaply, Maney said. The actual construction of the project is unlikely to start before 2015, will last five to seven years and could cost around $40 million.

In comparison, the Southside Interceptor Project completed in 2011 spanned only three miles, took two years to construct and cost slightly less than $12 million.

Paul Redman, director of engineering for the city, said that the southside project gave the sanitary district, which is a separate entity from the city, experience in such massive undertakings.

Despite the benefits of an improved system and perks such as new roads and utilities as a result of the construction, there would be some inconveniences, Redman said.

"I think residents that live along this route will have an interruption, as you would expect, to have access to their properties and some other issues with those that will be dealt with on the day-to-day basis of the construction," Redman said. "But I think the district was very good in working with our staff to deal with those issues as they came up."

Maney said that the district was able to offset a substantial portion of the cost of the southside project due to a federal loan as a part of President Barack Obama's stimulus package. While a similar opportunity hasn't presented itself yet, he said the district was looking at several opportunities to cut or offset costs.

In a previous community meeting in May, Maney said that could include rate hikes, but he did not address the possibility in his presentation Sept. 9. He did say the district may issue bonds, seek green funding grants and share the cost with other affected agencies.

"We've got maybe up to 10 years to walk around and see who might be willing to give us some money and we're definitely going to keep our eyes open for that" he said.

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