CRYSTAL LAKE Nearly a year's worth of improvements made to the Crystal Clear water facility in Crystal Lake are expected to wrap up by the end of this month.
Last summer, Aqua America acquired the Crystal Lake-based water facility. Crystal Clear serves about 293 customers near McHenry County.
"We came here to provide customers with a reliable source of water and have done so since," said Patrick Wren, Aqua Illinois northern regional supervisor.
Wren said that the first day at Crystal Clear they lost power, and the facility was in "major disrepair."
"When we first took over, it was blowing fuses here daily, so the first thing we started doing was updated the electrical system here," Wren said.
Since then, Aqua Illinois' completed upgrades include a well house electrical replacement, water meter replacement, well replacement, service replacements and installation of an emergency backup generator.
One improvement involved replacing old booster pumps with ones up to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Wren said the new booster pumps result in better water pressure.
"The first thing we do when we buy these systems is make sure they are in compliance with EPA standards, make sure it's good, clean water, then we work on the infrastructure, and last, we update the aesthetics," Wren said.
The final facility improvements consist of replacing pipes. Once installations are done, Aqua Illinois is estimated to have spent $467,059 in improvement costs since acquiring the facility last year.
Aqua Illinois maintains four facilities in McHenry County, including the McHenry Shores facility, which Aqua Illinois finished upgrading in the fall.
Last spring, Aqua America also acquired two McHenry County facilities from the Eastwood Manor Water Co. and the Nunda Utility Co.
The two water facilities collectively serve 525 customer connections and about 1,600 people in McHenry County. Once Nunda and Eastwood Manor are fully upgraded, the combined cost of the improvements for the two facilities is estimated to be about $1 million.
"When we acquired Nunda, Eastwood and Crystal Clear, they were in as bad as shape if not worst than McHenry Shores," Wren said.
Aqua Illinois recently held open houses for all four facilities in McHenry County to show residents the progress of their improvements and to get customer feedback.
Although the Crystal Clear facility's improvements almost are completed, Wren said all the projects are in the early stages of a five-year plan, with future improvements involving the distribution system such as mains, hydrants and valves.
Through 2020, Aqua Illinois plans to invest $5.5 million in water system upgrades to improve water quality and service for McHenry County residents.
Residents affected are asked to register for WaterSmart Alerts, which are instant notifications of what's going on in the system, such as precautionary boil orders or word about flushings.
"Having that information so we can communicate to our customers of what we are doing is really critical," Aqua Illinois President Craig Blanchette said.
To sign up for WaterSmart Alerts, call Aqua Customer Service at 877-987-2782 or visit www.AquaAmerica.com.
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