Water & Electric History
Villagers built a “modern” water plant and placed it in operation in 1893. It took water from Lake Michigan into the pumping station that supplied the water tower and distribution system. In those days service was supplied on a flat rate and water was sold in tanks for $1.00. Some villagers carried their own water and picked it up at public hydrants. They were charged $.50 a month. By 1922 it became apparent that a filtration plant was needed to purify the lake water and avoid the risk of a typhoid outbreak. The size of the filtration plant was doubled in 1932, to a capacity of 8 million gallons per day. Through the use of better designed filter media, the plant capacity was expanded to 16 million gallons per day by 1991, without increasing the plant’s size.
The Village’s electric plant was conceived in the late summer of 1899, and with a loan from the Water Department, began operation on January 17, 1900. It originally operated at night to provide street and residential lighting. From that date until 1971, the Village produced all the electricity used in the Village. In 1971 and 1972, three distribution voltage circuits connected the Village’s electric system to Commonwealth Edison. In 1996, a connection was made to ComEd’s transmission system. The Village now purchases all of the power needed by residents from the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA).
The Village has continued to invest in the utilities. At the end of 2010 their value had grown to $28.29 million dollars. With very few exceptions this growth has been paid for with surplus earnings. These utilities are self-supporting and do not receive any tax dollars from residents. They do, however, contribute approximately $1.2 million dollars to the General Fund of the Village and more than $1.3 million dollars for the billing and administrative support of the Village.