Village concerned outages could cause sewer crisis
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURNâ€”The village of Elburn this week applied for a $539,000 government loan to pay for an emergency generator for the wastewater treatment plant, to prevent residential sewer backups during power outages.
The village is seeking the low-interest loan from Kane County’s $16 million Recovery Zone Bond Program financed by the federal government.
The emergency generator has been on the village’s wish list for more than a year. In January 2009, Village engineer Bill Gain told the Village Board, â€œIt is imperative that Elburn install a power generator at its wastewater treatment plant to prevent residential sewage backups during a power outage.â€
He said then that if there were a power outage, the plant would be without power for its lift stations, possibly for 12 hours or more.
Gain’s prediction proved correct. On June 18, a severe storm led to electrical outages in Elburn and throughout northern Illinois. The village’s wastewater treatment plant on Thrysilius Drive had no electricity for 13 hours starting at 3:30 p.m.
Reporting on the incident to the Village Board Monday, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said public works personnel reacted quickly and set up gas-powered pumps to move the influent into the oxidation ditches at the plant. They also borrowed an additional pump from the city of Geneva.
â€œThat put us over the top and prevented us from flooding out,â€ Nevenhoven said.
Nevenhoven said the village received no reports of sewage backing up into basements.
â€œIt came close,â€ Nevenhoven said.
Nevenhoven said the village will find out in September or October whether the loan for the emergency generator is approved.
The village would have 10 years to pay off the loan, at 3 percent interest, and the federal government would reimburse the village 45 percent of the interest it paid, Nevenhoven said.