Progress at Prophetstown’s new water plant

By Sarah Ford, AP Staff Writer

Prophetstown’s new water plant is taking shape after nearly nine months of labor at the site on Buttercup Lane.
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Recent additions to the plant include concrete sidewalks, driveway, and installation of a generator and a 43,000 lb. water filter, which was hoisted into the building by a large crane last week. The water plant was designed to blend in with existing properties nearby, and from the outside, it looks like normal construction on a house.

“Everything is on track now,” said Mayor Steve Swanson. He credits contractor Leander Construction of Canton, IL and engineering firm Willett, Hofmann & Associates of Dixon for “doing a great job” and keeping pace with the project.

Current estimates have the new well and water system up and running by mid-February, if not before. Nicor gas meters need to be installed on slabs in the rear of the building, where a new service road was built to keep heavy traffic off the lane. Black top and new curbing for the cul-de-sac were slated for the fall but might be pushed back to the spring.

Even though it looks like a two-story residential home from the outside, the inside tells a different story. There’s no upper floor though the ceilings reach 18 ft. to accommodate the filter tank. The first floor is the operations center with a lab for water testing and a storage facility for chemicals. The outdoor windows are tinted, “but if you look in, you wouldn’t see much,” said Swanson.

After the site work is complete, mounds of dirt surrounding the site will be terraced into landscape. To blend in with the neighborhood, he even envisions rocking chairs and a table on the porch. 

The new well and water plant will replace the city’s aging infrastructure by Jaycee Park, which is closed off until the new system goes online. Swanson said the current water plant was built in 1978 and after 40-plus years of operations, maintenance on the old filter has become a challenge. Instead of regularly sending in test samples, plant operators will be able to perform lab tests on-site at the new facility.

Swanson said with new state and federal rules and regulations for wells and treatment, now was the time to modernize Prophetstown’s infrastructure. The water plant is similar to facilities in Dixon, IL that he toured prior to the city’s approval of the design.    

The $6.3 million dollar project was awarded an IEPA grant for $1.25 million, with the council approving a $5.67 million loan for the remainder of the funds. The loan will take 30 years to pay off, with increases to business and residential water rates to pay for it.    

Planning for the project has been many years in the making, with a lengthy delay due to Covid. Construction officially started in March 2023 with an estimated timeframe of a year to complete. With regular maintenance and upkeep, the plant will supply water to the community for decades to come.  

Mayor Steve Swanson documented the installation of the massive water filter last week.

Progress on the water plant on Wednesday, December 8.

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