By Jim Hagerty
SOUTH BELOIT – South Beloit officials were flanked by various city and county luminaries last Friday for a groundbreaking ceremony that kicked off a nearly $40 million wastewater treatment plant renovation project.
When completed in 2021, the renovated South Beloit Wastewater Treatment Plant will mark the largest project ever for the City of South Beloit, which boasts a population of about 8,000 about 25 miles north of Rockford.
The existing facility has been a point of contention in its 63-year history. It was last expanded in 1986 and has since experienced a litany of problems. Since the 1986 upgrade, the plant was often over capacity, and by 2009, was leaking about 75,000 gallons of sewage and untreated groundwater into the Rock River. That’s because as facility has a capacity of 3 million gallons a day but often treats about 6 million gallons. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency gave the city several deadlines to make repairs, none of which were permanent solutions.
The latest project is funded in part by a $39.75 million loan from the IEPA. The financing includes engineering costs. The loan will be repaid over 30 years; South Beloit is expected to make two payments per year with some of the funds collected from incremental rate increases that will be assessed at least through 2029.
Rockford-based Fehr Graham, a leading Midwest engineering and environmental firm, completed the civil engineering design for the project. River City Construction, of Peoria, was awarded the construction contract. Operations at the plant are not expected to be interrupted during the upgrade.
“(This is) more than a sewer plant,” South Beloit Mayor Ted Rahl said. “It’s about a city that’s been in a relatively struggling economic situation beginning to emerge from that. As we create more waste, often times more waste is a reflection of success because you’re building you’re adding and the byproducts have to be treated somewhere.”
The project will add preliminary treatment units, which remove debris from water before it’s treated. Officials say the new plant will produce a higher quality effluent–water that’s discharged into the river– and reduce the amount of agricultural runoff by 33 percent and the amount of electricity used by 15 percent.
Construction is scheduled to being in the next few weeks and will come with approximately 30 jobs. R.
Photo courtesy of Fehr Graham