MONROE - After months of tough negotiations, the City of Monroe, LaSalle Township, and the South County Water District have worked out a deal to install a second connection between their two water systems in hopes of avoiding catastrophic losses of service.
The agreement, which is being formalized this week, calls for a new interconnection in the Bolles Harbor area that, in an emergency, would keep water flowing to residents in those areas if either Monroe or South County would lose its regular supply.
"It's a good thing. It's about a $420,000 project, but if we lose our system, we can use theirs, and the same thing holds for [Monroe water customers]," LaSalle Township Supervisor Larry Rutledge explained.
The extension will be built along LaPlaisance Road from the township line at Woodchuck Creek to an existing South County water line a few hundred yards to the south.
The second emergency connection between South County and the city's system should be built yet this year after nearly 18 months working out the details of the agreement, said Barry LaRoy, Monroe's director of water and utilities.
"We've been working on an additional connection since 2004," Mr. LaRoy said. The city and South County have a single 12-inch emergency connection that currently runs along South Dixie Highway. That line is not large enough to provide all of the water needs for either district in the event of a catastrophe, but could be used to augment other sources in such an event. Both the existing emergency connection and the new backup will have valves so that there is no commingling of systems, Mr. Rutledge said.
That there would be a water emergency in that area is not outside the realm of possibility, Mr. LaRoy said. The existing water line that serves about 500 residents near Bolles Harbor runs in the I-75 right-of-way and has had maintenance issues in the past.
"We've had a few breaks along that line and had to shut it down a few times," Mr. LaRoy said.
The second connection point might also help avert the kind of situation that occurred in late 1989, when zebra mussels and ice near Monroe's water intake in Lake Erie forced a water emergency for several days in Monroe, closing local businesses and other public facilities.
The city has since introduced other redundant systems into its water treatment system to make sure that incident isn't repeated.