Pingree Grove watering ban may last for months
By Ryan Klassy For The Courier-News August 1, 2012 8:58AM
There is a outdoor water ban in Pingree Grove due to a lightning strike on a well pump. Repairs to the well pump may take more than two months to complete, meaning the ban is expected to be in place into the fall. August 1, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:13PM
PINGREE GROVE — Village officials will have to wait at least a few more days to find out the extent of repairs that are needed on one of the two pumps that supply Pingree Grove with well water, and repairs may take months.
In the mean time, residents are being asked to obey a ban on all outdoor watering to keep from stressing the motor in the village’s remaining well. The ban is in affect until further notice and includes watering of lawns, shrubs and gardens, washing cars and filling swimming pools.
“Well number two is pumping normally and isn’t under any undue stress at the moment,” said Water and Sewer Superintendent Gary Zickuhr.
He hopes the watering ban will help keep it that way.
During a special meeting of the village board Tuesday night, trustees gave Village Administrator Ken Lopez approval to move forward with repairs to the well in accordance with engineers’ recommendations and within budget guidelines.
Well repairs will be on the agenda at Monday’s regularly scheduled board meeting. But in the meantime, Lopez was given broad authority to make decisions to expedite repairs and avoid more special board meetings. He was allowed to waive the competitive bidding process to choose a contractor for the repairs and may enter into agreements to obtain emergency water if needed.
The village has storage capacity for approximately 1 million gallons of water, enough to last only about four days if the pump on the second well should fail. As a contingency, village engineers said they have contacted the city of Elgin to discuss the option of supplying water via a temporary connection above ground.
Hit by lightning?
The village is still trying to determine exactly what caused the pump to fail. Everything above ground is functioning properly and inspections have not revealed any faults with any of the controllers or wiring systems above ground.
Zickuhr noted that thunderstorms rolled through the area before the well was discovered inoperable on the evening of July 25, making a lightning strike a possible culprit.
“That’s really just a best guess at this point,” Zickuhr said. “Until we pull the motor out and really look at it, we won’t know.
Engineers also noted that since it was installed, the well had been lifting sand that is then removed during the filtration process. They indicated that this could be causing wear on some parts, but did not say it was likely to have caused the failure.
It will be at least the end of next week before crews will be able to pull the motor from where it rests 750 feet below ground.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has outlawed the sale of mercury-sealed motors, the type that this well has. Conversion of the motor to comply with the new law, or replacement, could take up to 10 weeks.
Repairs could cost the village anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. Trustees will make decisions in the coming weeks as to what additional maintenance should be done on the well, as long as the motor is on the surface.
The village had planned to do maintenance and rehabilitation of the well this year. In March, engineers projected those costs would be around $150,000, but planned to do the project when water usage had diminished, during the fall or winter. And certainly not during a drought.
Thanks to at least some rain in the past two weeks, Zickuhr said, usage is down to normal levels — around 250,000 gallons per day. Dry weather and increased outdoor watering had the village pumping up to 900,000 gallons per day in May and June. Normally, both wells supply water, in an alternating fashion, all monitored by computer.
Fines in place
The village plans to install signs at all village entrances to inform residents of the water restrictions and will mail letters this week.
Lopez said Cambridge Homes has been informed of the watering ban and asked to advise any contractors working in the village. The ban does include watering of sod.
Two pools within the village that have the water they need will remain open. A splash park, which requires fresh water, will be closed. A waterfall that faces Route 72 uses fresh water as a back up. It will continue to run only on what water it has now and any rain water it captures.
Village President Mayor Greg Marston pointed out that the village’s watering of parkway trees and landscaping is done with non-potable “gray water” that has gone through the village’s sewer treatment plant, not fresh water from the wells.
Non-compliance with the watering ban carries a fine of $100. Village Attorney Dean Frieders encouraged residents to call village hall with any questions and stressed that cooperation is the goal, not collection of fines.
“We need all residents to work together and talk to their neighbors,” Frieders said. “The goal is not to write tickets, but to cooperate and make sure we’re not overstressing the water system.”