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Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 06:49 pm

Say yes to Hunter Lake

A lake would solve more problems than gravel pits and wells

There are at least two sides to every story. The Hunter Lake story has been going on for over 40 years and the following is another side of it [See “Say no to Hunter Lake,” by Fletcher Farrar, IT, Dec. 11].

Hunter Lake is, and always has been, the preferred alternative for a permanent secondary water supply for Springfield. There is a gravel pits/wells alternative that some people prefer.

The purpose of Hunter Lake, or any other proposed alternative, is not only to use it in the case of a severe drought. The proposed plan by CWLP is to supplement Lake Springfield any time they cannot maintain the normal seasonal pool levels by pumping water out of the South Fork of the Sangamon River.

Hunter Lake would consist of a 3,000-acre lake and 4,700 acres of planned forests, prairies and wetlands. It is planned that these acres would be protected by a permanent conservation easement.

Hunter Lake is the only proposed alternative that will protect this land. The current plan in place is to sell the Hunter Lake properties if the alternative is chosen. Many of the original property owners’ sales contracts stipulate that Springfield must give them the right to buy their property back if Hunter Lake is not built.

Hunter Lake is the only proposed alternative that will solve the water quality issues concerning Horse and Brush Creeks and Lake Springfield. These are proposed solutions to the discharge from the wastewater treatment plants of Pawnee, Divernon and Virden and also a sewer line that could take hundreds of residences on Lake Springfield off their septic systems.

In addition, Hunter Lake would provide approximately twice the amount of water [21 million gallons a day] that the gravel pits/wells alternative [11.5 million gallons a day] would.

The operation and maintenance cost of Hunter Lake is estimated by CWLP to be approximately $1 million per year less than the gravel pits/wells alternative. The maximum depth of Hunter Lake would be 19 feet deeper than Lake Springfield. The average depth would be 2.3 feet deeper than Lake Springfield.

Applying the estimated $21 million from the sale of the Hunter Lake property, the actual estimated cost of the gravel pits/wells alternative is $62.5 million. This $62.5 million estimated cost does not include the proposed solutions to the water quality issues of Horse and Brush Creeks and Lake Springfield, which are only included in the Hunter Lake proposal. The estimated cost to construct the Hunter Lake project is $81 million. The funding would be raised by a water rate increase.

Springfield is at a crossroad. The question is which road to take.

Reg Davis is a fourth generation resident of Springfield with family ties to the Hunter Lake property. He has followed and researched the lake issue for more than 20 years.

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