Big Rock to build central sewer system

By on February 12, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
The village of Big Rock has determined what kind of sewer system it wants to build. Now, it just needs to find the money to do it.

According to Applied Technologies engineer Jim Smith, a shallow groundwater table and aging septic systems converged over time to create higher-than-acceptable levels of pollutants in Big Rock Creek.

When a complaint was filed with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Kane County officials stepped forward to assist the village in finding the money to address the problem. The $22,500 study, conducted by Smith, was paid for in part with a Kane County Community Investment Initiatives Program the village received in October 2008.

Smith said he evaluated a number of alternatives before recommending a central recirculating sand filtration system. The system, in which waste water is circulated through a two-foot bed of sand a number of times before entering an ultra-violet-light disinfection system, is the simplest to operate and the most environmentally friendly, Smith said.

“No chemicals are needed; it’s all natural,” he explained. “It’s basically what nature does, only we speed it up by about 100 times.”

Sandy Bell, chairman of the village’s Drainage Committee, said the system will serve Big Rock’s central residential and business district, where lot sizes are between one-quarter and one-half acre. The next steps will include defining the specific area involved, creating what is called a facilities planning area (FPA), and obtaining approvals.

The village must also find additional funding for the project, which will cost approximately $3.4 million, Smith said. Possible funding sources Bell has checked into include a United States Environmental Protection Agency grant, Kane County block grants and IEPA community grants.

Although for now, the treatment system will serve the small downtown area, Smith said the system is modular, and can easily be expanded if needed.

The village of Big Rock was incorporated in 2001 to keep other villages from expanding into Big Rock Township and promoting what it considered rapid growth.

“Big Rock has never looked to develop aggressively,” trustee Dean Hummell said. “We would like to see the farmers keep farming, but we have to be realistic. Growth is going to come. We’re just trying to be more proactive, rather than reactive.”