By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — —
Rend Lake Conservancy District has received a $1.8 million grant from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to construct a bypass for the water main beneath the lake and serving Jefferson County.
“We’ve been working on this bypass project for at least two years,” said RLCD General Manager Keith Thomason during a grant announcement conference on Tuesday. “This has major impact for people and customers on the north side of Franklin County and all of Jefferson County. I know we’ve been concerned about it since my arrival eight years ago, having a piece of the main water line under Rend Lake. We have good crews who can get out and fix or replace water mains quickly, but a water main under water is another matter.”
At this time, the 18-inch water main, which serves about 39,000 people, has a 7,000 foot portion which runs under the surface of Rend Lake. Thomason said about two years ago Cary Minnis, executive director of Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission approached the district about projects that could get help, the bypass was one given priority.
“He led us to the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, and they started working on changing their emergency mitigation plan to allow for the project.”
Ryan Buckingham, director of Franklin County EMA, said when Rob Clodi, who is now with RLCD, was with Greater Egypt, he was instrumental in helping get the county mitigation plan going.
“It started there,” Buckingham said. “This project was an amendment to the plan. But, that’s what a good mitigation plan does — it constantly changes and meets the needs of the jurisdiction.”
The $1.8 million grant is being funded by IEMA through federal Hazard Mitigation program funds. The grant will pay up to 75 percent of the total project costs. The bypass will be constructed in Franklin County, going from the water main in Whittington at Ewing Road, cutting east across private property to Connor Road then north to Rescue Church Road, where the line will go east to Bean Road then go north to County Line Road, where it will turn west to connect with the existing 16-inch main along Illinois Route 37.
“When we reviewed the work done here on the application, it was very impressive,” said IEMA Assistant Director Joe Klinger. “One area that is often overlooked on projects is mitigation. Mitigation is the key. ... When you have a mitigation plan and address those types of projects, that minimizes responses and recovery effort time later. This project makes the public water supply more robust and resilient to seismic activity. ... If there were an earthquake, instead of 21 days estimated to repair the existing water main, it’s down to one day. That means any communities that may be impacted can recover that much quicker.”
Thomason said permits and easements on the bypass project have been obtained, and it is expected the construction will start by May 1, with the total project taking three to four months.