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Flossmoor board moves forward on water meter project

Flossmoor trustees approved a contract Monday, Sept. 18, with Calumet City Plumbing to install new, more accurate water meters throughout the village.

The water meter replacement project has been in the works for years. Completing it is expected to help village staff and residents more closely monitor water usage because the data are available electronically.

The board approved the purchase of 2,700 meters in July for $1.1 million.

The winning bid was for a total of $848,684, including contingency costs and an alternate price for doing home visits to determine the type of water service line is in the 1,118 customers who already have smart water meters.

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The installation contract along with the meter purchase brought the total project cost to nearly $1.98 million, about $127,252 over the amount budgeted.

A big portion of the project costs, about $1.05 million, will be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds. The rest will come from village funds — $500,000 from the general fund, $225,000 from the water fund and $75,000 from the sewer fund.

The total does not include one additional expense for the project, a construction observation contract. Public Works Director John Brunke said a proposal for that work is expected in the coming weeks.

Trustee Rosalind Mustafa suggested public works staff consider developing a check list that could be used to account for all expenses during the budgeting process. Brunke said the shifting prices over the course of the long-term project contributed to the budget gap. He agreed the checklist would help deal with the situation.

Trustee Gary Daggett sympathized with the problem of unstable costs.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re in a time when costs just seem to go up on a monthly basis,” he said. “This is one that’s been hanging over us for a while so I’m glad to see it move forward.”

He also noted residents could see increased water bills because the new meters will give more accurate readings. That likelihood is something the board has discussed before, and it hopes to prepare residents for the possibility.

“My water bill is probably going to go up, but that means I’ve been getting free water all this time,” he said.

Daggett also asked whether costs could be reduced by asking residents to help identify water service line materials by submitting photos of the lines to the village.

Brunke said that could work “if everybody participated.”

He said the village had tried including service line identification as part of a community survey a few years ago, but the response rate, about 20% to 30%, was not an adequate sample and photo quality was often poor.

The village needs a more reliable, comprehensive survey “in order to get really good numbers when we go for funding,” he said.

Water supply owners and operators in Illinois have until April 15, 2024, to complete a water service line inventory and submit it to the state Environmental Protection Agency.

Reappointment
The board also voted to reappoint Jackie Riffice to a new three-year term on the Community Relations Commission, where she serves as vice chair.

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