Dave Schonauer, manager of the Lincoln water district, hosted
the tour. Other Illinois American representatives on hand were Barry
Suits, vice president of operations; Chris Johnson, from the Peoria
District; and Karen Cotton, external affairs manager.
Snyder, Alderwoman Jonie Tibbs and husband Harry, Alderwoman Kathy
Horn, City Clerk Susan Gehlbach, and Chief Mark Miller of the
Lincoln Fire Department were on hand to take the tour.
Schonauer said that this most recent addition of a new pumping
house was the fourth project to be completed in the last five years.
He said the pumping station was actually completed in March last
year, but they held off on bringing folks to the area until all the
cleanup work associated with the construction project was completed.
Schonauer said that just looking at the building, a $1.5 million
price tag might seem quite high, but he said there was a tremendous
amount of work that had to go into getting the building just right.
He began talking about the build by talking about the tear-down
of the old Lincoln Power Plant. He said the original plant had been
partly taken out, but what was left was the pumping station. That
had to be taken down. He said the building, which was built in the
late 1800s, had 18-inch-thick walls, and the rebar underneath the
building was about 4 inches in diameter. He said some of the
old-timers had told him that what had been torn down previously was
taken down only to ground level. Schonauer said there was a
tremendous amount of excavation beneath the ground's surface in
order to completely remove the old building.
He shared many photos of the operation, from the tear-down
through the construction of the new facility.
The new building was somewhat of a prefab, built off-site by
Engineered Fluid Inc. of Centralia. He said about 90 percent of the
building was constructed before it arrived in Lincoln. Then cranes
were used to set it into place.
Illinois American Water draws its water supply for the city of
Lincoln from four wells south of the plant. Schonauer explained that
with the new facility, the water drawn passes through the water
treatment plant and then goes directly to town during prime usage
time. In addition, water is stored in a 2-million-gallon reservoir.
As an example, Schonauer said for the meeting, the treatment plant
had been shut down to cut down on noise, and all the water going
into town was coming out of the reservoir.
Inside the new pumping station, Schonauer explained there are
three huge pumps in place. With new technology, he said the system
graduates itself so that pumps kick on and shut off according to
Each pump in the new building has a top capacity to pump 1,800
gallons of water per minute. Schonauer said that when one pump is
running and it senses that it is not keeping up with current demand,
it powers down, the second pump comes on with it, and together they
speed back up to maximum capacity. If that is not sufficient, then
the two pumps power down and pick up the third one, and together all
three power back up to maximum capacity. Schonauer estimated that in
times of serious need, the plant has the ability to pump out in
excess of 3,000 gallons of water per minute.
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This is especially important for the city fire department. With
that kind of capacity, the fire department is better equipped to
effectively battle a large fire in the city.
Schonauer also talked about a peril with firefighting that many
may not be aware of. He said the city department does a great job of
communicating with the water company what they are doing during a
fire call. When hydrants are opened up to put out a fire, the demand
for water increases greatly. The pumps kick in and do their job, and
water is delivered.
But, when the firefighters start shutting down those hydrants, if
they do so too quickly, they can really tear things up for the water
department. Schonauer said the fire department is very good about
contacting the water company and saying they are getting ready to
shut down the water hydrants. The water department then begins
slowing down the pumps and decreasing water pressure. He said the
fire department is also very good about closing hydrants slowly. He
said this is important because shutting them off too quickly would
also cause a sudden burst of water pressure that could damage water
Another benefit to the new building is that there is no longer
such a terrible concern for flooding. The new building sits atop a
low hill at the heart of the water company property. Schonauer
talked about the fact that the old system sat in a very low area. He
said he had accounts of the flood of 1926 at the water company, and
he showed a large composite photo. He said he had information about
that year and the efforts that were made to try to save the water
plant. He said the town was seriously concerned that it would lose
the city's water supply. He told the group, "Until we built this
building, we had the same concern every year."
This year Illinois American Water will continue upgrading their
systems in Lincoln to assure that water delivery to local residents
remains constant. This year's plans include installing 120 feet of
8-inch water main. The project will be completed in conjunction with
the construction of high-speed rail in Lincoln.
In a news release related to the tour, Schonauer was quoted as
saying: "Illinois American Water continues to invest annually in its
systems to ensure that local water quality and service continues to
be as good as or better than local, state and federal quality
Also in that same release was the following excerpt:
"The U.S. EPA reports that the nation's water utilities will need
to make more than $335 billion in infrastructure investments over
the next 20 years to ensure public health. Illinois American Water's
investment in Lincoln is just another example of continuous
investments and improvements being made, helping to meet the demands
of today's customers and planning for the future."
[By NILA SMITH]