Marc Hathaway, who owns several rental properties and a fitness center in Harvard, was in attendance during an open house-style public hearing Monday to go over planned upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment facility.
Although he said he always is concerned about a project that will require costs to increase for residents, he also acknowledged that the city’s nearly 80-year-old plant is antiquated and in definite need of an upgrade.
Hathaway joined a handful of residents to provide public comment before the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency gives its final approval of the project plan.
Barring any new information on the project that causes reconsideration, the agency will approve the project plan at the end of the public comment period, which will end March 21.
The estimated cost for the project is about $20 million, which the city is hoping to partially fund through a loan from the IEPA’s Pollution Control Loan Program.
To help repay the debt, the city would look to increase user fees, which could raise an average resident’s bimonthly service bill from $29.85 to $49.79.
R. Scott Trotter, president of Trotter and Associates Inc., said the upgrades would be required to comply with new IEPA regulations, some of which are aimed to reduce nutrients such as phosphorus.
Such nutrients encourage algae growth, which in turn saps oxygen from water.
Other attendees questioned whether odors would increase with the upgrades, which Trotter said would not be the case.
If all goes according to plan, the estimated construction start date would be May 2020, according to a letter from the IEPA. Construction would wrap up by June 2021.
Residents will have up to 10 days after the hearing to submit written comments on the project to either the city of Harvard or to an IEPA representative.
For information on public comment submissions, call IEPA project manager Bill Jankousky at 217-782-2027.