Water Department

Water System Diagram-page-001

The Previous Production System (1892 - 2011)

The Village of Western Springs has been producing its own water since approximately 1892. In the more than one hundred years that the Village has been producing water, the Village's system has had several major changes.

1st Generation Water System

The Village began pumping its own water in approximately 1892. The Village utilized several small wells within the community and the Village's historic tower located on the tower green was the storage facility for the community. From 1892 until 1930, there was no treatment process for any of the water in the Village.

2nd Generation Water System

The first major expansion to the Village's distribution system occurred between 1924 and 1930 with the development of well #1, well #2 and the original lime softening treatment plant. Both wells were shallow wells.

3rd Generation Water System

The second major expansion of the Village's system occurred between 1955 and 1966 and featured expansion of the lime softening water treatment plant and the construction of the Village's two deep wells; well #3 and well #4. Over the years, minor modifications were made to the Village's treatment and distribution system.

4th Generation Water System

In 2008, the Village culminated a ten year study looking at the next major development in the Village's water treatment system with the transition from a lime softening treatment plant to a low pressure reverse osmosis treatment plant. Construction on the reverse osmosis plant began in November of 2011 and concluded in 2013.

As the Village's wells, storage facilities and distribution network continue to age, future improvements to the system will be needed.

Current Production System
(2011 - Current)

The Village's current water production system consists of three wells, a treatment plant, three storage tanks, the connecting water mains and the associated equipment. The Village has a 2 million gallon standpipe located near Lyons Township High School and a 1 million gallon elevated tank located at Springrock Park, both of which pressure the current system. The Village’s water mains are not uni-directional and flow in the pipes changes depending upon various conditions from the two water tanks and usage within the system. The Village has over 52 miles of water main, of which approximately 77% is over 40 years in age.
The Village completed a major renovation of the water treatment plant in 2013 which transitioned the Village from a lime softening treatment process to a low pressure reverse osmosis process (LPRO). The treatment plant outputs nearly 600 million gallons of water to the residents of Western Springs and average daily consumption levels range from approximately 1.2 – 2.8 millions of gallons per day (MGD).

The Village currently operates on a three well system that feeds the water treatment plant with wells #1, #3 and #4.

Well #1 is a shallow well, drilled to a depth of 385 feet below land surface within the St. Peter Formation. Well #1 was drilled in 1924 and currently has a capacity just under 850 gallons per minute (GPM) or a maximum of 1.2 MGD. This well has a high total hardness (approximately 55 grains, 942 mg/L) and iron, but meets all federal primary drinking water standards. It is seldom used to supply water to the residents.

When this well is operated to distribution, residents will often notice a change in the water quality during that time.

Well #2 was a shallow well similar to well #1 which was located at the water treatment plant. It was capped during the mid-twentieth century and is no longer in use.

Well #3 is the primary source of water for the Village. Drilled in 1955 in the Ironton-Galesville formation to the depth of approximately 1,600 feet, well #3 is a deep well and the production capacity is approximately 1,300 GPM or a maximum of 1.7 MGD. Water from this well exceeds the primary drinking water standard for radium; therefore, the water must be treated prior to distribution. The well contains natural fluoride, low sodium and meets all other measurements for water quality. It was rehabilitated in 2015, 2003 and prior to that in 1996. It also has an emergency diesel generator to supply electricity to the well if needed.

Well #4 is a deep well drilled in 1966 in the Mt. Simon formation and is approximately 1,900 feet below land surface. This well has a production capacity of approximately 1,100 GPM or a maximum of 1.5 MGD. Radium levels in well #4 meet the primary drink water standard; therefore, the water from well #4 may be used with disinfection only, if needed. Total hardness on this well is lower than well #3 and with different mineralization well #4 water will have a noticeable taste change if not treated. The well was rehabilitated in 2010, 1998 and prior to that in 1990.

The Water Treatment Process

Low Pressure Reverse Osmosis

Beginning in 2011, the Village began the transition from lime softening to low pressure reverse osmosis. Low Pressure Reverse Osmosis (LPRO) is a water purification technology that uses a semipermeable membrane to remove larger particles from drinking water. Reverse osmosis can remove many types of molecules and ions from solutions, including bacteria, and is used in both industrial processes and the production of potable water. The technology is most commonly found in desalination plants and other rural treatment plants in the United States.
After the feed water is processed through the Village's RO trains approximately 15% of the raw water from the deep wells is bypassed and blended back into the RO water to allow for adjustments to taste and texture. The water is then chlorinated before going out to the Village's distribution system.

Lime Softening

From 1930 through 2011, the Village's water treatment plant was a lime softening treatment process. Lime softening, also known as Clark's process, is a type of water treatment used for water softening which uses the addition of limewater (calcium hydroxide) to remove hardness (calcium and magnesium) by precipitation. While this process was very effective at softening the water, it did produce a byproduct of calcium carbonate which the Village had to dispose of. Quantities of calcium carbonate also made their way into the distribution system which caused problems for some residents in their homes.

Where does the Village's Water Come From?

The Village's Wells

A diagrammatic hydrogeologic section of northern Illinois shows the aquifers sloping downward into the edge of the Illinois Basins. The three principal aquifers (St. Peter-Prairie due Chein-Jordan, Ironton-Galesville, and Mount Simon) contain fresh water at depths as much as 2,000 feet below land surface in northernmost Illinois. The Village has three wells drilled into different aquifers as is illustrated.

The Cambrian-Ordovician Aquifer

The Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer system which consists predominantly of sandstone aquifers separated by poorly permeable confining units, extends over a large part of the North-Central United States, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and upper portions of Michigan. Many communities throughout the upper midwest obtain their drinking water from this aquifer system.