Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to

The Issue: A decision will need to be made regarding Carlinville’s water situation.

Our View: Although water has become a point of contention in the mayor’s race, the decision belongs to council members.

There’s no argument that action will soon need to be taken regarding Carlinville’s water situation. The city is currently drawing off Lake 2 because Lake 1 is no longer usable, and it’s unlikely Lake 2 will carry those on Carlinville water very long into the future. Silting and intake issues have limited the viability of Carlinville’s drinking water supply.

As in any election, the candidates running for mayor have to, or should, have some sort of platform on which to run. Without positions on the issues, the candidates involve themselves in nothing more than a popularity contest, so issues are important, but not all issues are the same. The fact is, a mayor might have a position on a certain issue, but if enough councilmen vote the opposite way, the mayor’s point is moot. Only if there is a tie or if a super majority is needed does a mayor get to vote on an issue. While a mayor can certainly take a specific stance on an issue, the vote is ultimately up to the council.

When it comes to Carlinville’s water situation, many residents and councilmen are searching for ways to resolve the issue. They want options. While there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting more information regarding the options, there are several points of view that might be less useful than others. For example, there are several in the community who are focused on keeping Carlinville’s water source local. Although that may be very doable, it may or may not be the best option. Consider this: Carlinville Area Hospital is a top-notch small town health care provider; however, even they may refer a patient elsewhere if he is in need of neurosurgery. In such a situation, locality is not the most important criteria. We believe the same is true when it comes to options for Carlinville’s water source. Consideration must be given to finding a very long-term, safe and economical water source. Make no mistake, economics must be considered whenever tax payer money is a factor.

Another point of view that is of importance to many water customers is control. There is a commercial water line that runs along Carlinville’s north end. The water belongs to a company that sells it for profit. Since it is a commercial enterprise, customers on the water system have no say in how the operation is managed. It would be a relatively quick and easy solution, but neither city government nor water customers would much, if any, say in how the system is managed.

The matter of continuing to draw the city’s drinking water from either lake is a possibility if major construction is done. The water plant needs to be replaced and the lake has major issues with silt. It’s likely the city would have to still find an alternate water source while the issues at the lake are resolved.

There has even been mention of a project that would combine Carlinville Lake with Gillespie’s lake. While there would have to be a cooperative agreement forged between the communities and satellites on both water systems, the process of acquiring ground and easements, not to mention construction, would create another lake that would eventually require the same maintenance facing the current lake(s). While the option is possible, the cost and the amount of time it would take to complete such a project may not be feasible.

The option currently under review involves a regional water plan, one of which is already being considered in Jersey County. Rather than a lake, water would come from an aquifer, which is a body of permeable rock through which ground water can be transmitted. No lake. No silt. No runoff issues. An aquifer may or may not be what’s best for Carlinville.

While there have been several meetings held by the city’s Ad Hoc Water Committee, Winning Communities and mayoral candidates, none have been well attended by the public, which results in conflicting information.

We would like the city to host a well-promoted town hall meeting with members of the Ad Hoc Water Committee in attendance, as well as engineers, members of the council and Public Works Committee, for the purpose of providing the public with information on the research that has been done and the options that have been considered. Such a meeting will only work if the public attends. There are lots of opinions out there, but they cannot be considered unless they are voiced.

This issue has been under consideration for many months, but meetings on the matter have not been well attended. The importance of the public letting their representatives know what they think is crucial in this sort of issue. It’s time for mayoral candidates to quit using this issue for political leverage and encourage committee and council members to listen to what the public has to say and provide them with quality information on the options available.