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The City of Gillespie's Water Project


Gillespie’s water main project was a massive undertaking that replaced all of the non-pvc water lines in Gillespie. The total cost was $11 million dollars, which was financed via a low interest loan for $6.5 million and a $4.5 million grant, both from USDA-RD.  While the project was estimated to take two years to complete; all the new water mains were installed in about a year. Final seeding and cleanup will be completed by the city by the end of 2021.


Importance of the Project

The vast majority of Gillespie’s old distribution system consisted of severely corroded cast iron water pipes along with some undersized water mains, which were at the end of their serviceable life. Some of the water mains were 2” and current IEPA regulations call for a 3” minimum size for water main.  The interiors of the cast iron water mains that were removed during water main breaks all exhibited extensive tuberculation of the pipe interiors (tuberculation is the formation of corrosive buildup within the pipes). The tuberculation on the pipe interiors increase pipe roughness thus increasing pumping costs and reducing system flow capacity. The only option to fully rehabilitate the cast iron piping system was complete replacement.


Additionally, the City had been experiencing about 20 water main breaks annually and each main break subjected the system and residents to the possibility of contamination while also costing thousands of dollars annually in repair costs. But water breaks were not the only item driving up water costs: mains as old as Gillespie’s are subject to hairline cracks and faulty seals which result in low volume but constant seepage from pipe joints. An analysis of the system by the city’s engineers found that around 20% of the water produced by the city was lost in such a fashion. Since the water mains were replaced, water demand has fallen by more than 25% thanks to the new pipes and more accurate meters. Overall, the City of Gillespie’s water main project served three important roles:

  1. Insuring safe water for residents.

  2. Cutting down overall costs associated with pumping water.

  3. Updating outdated public infrastructure.

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