Turning on the Waterworks

by Donald E. Eckmann, (F.ASCE), Partner; Alvord, Burdick & Howson Engineers, Chicago, IL,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 8, Pg. 48-51

Document Type: Feature article


A new tunnel, two pumping stations, reservoirs and 150 mi of pipe have 23 municipalities in DuPage County, Illinois awash in Lake Michigan water, ahead of schedule and under budget. Bringing the $400 million Lake Michigan Water Supply project on-line entailed skillful community relations, careful scheduling dependent on permit acquisition, innovative use of materials and management of 25 contractors. The project dates back to a 1980 state ruling, mandating that Lake Michigan water be made available to all entities in DuPage County that request allocation. The key question then became, should DuPage municipalities purchase potable water from Chicago or construct a pipeline around the city, with a separate lake intake system and water treatment plant. A report showed the most feasible approach was to purchase potable water from Chicago, provided the cost was the same paid by city residents and other communities already served. Innovations during project delivery included the competitive use of steel, concrete and ductile iron sewer pipe, which brought bids down and a successful dispute review process which helped contractors and the county avoid arbitration.

Subject Headings: Municipal water | Lakes | Water pipelines | Urban areas | Water treatment plants | Water intakes | Steel pipes

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