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Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 12:06 am

ENGINEERS, NOT LAWYERS

Critics of Chatham’s less-than-perfect water system got some bad news this week from a Chicago law firm hired to review the creation of the South Sangamon Water Commission and determine whether there were any shenanigans that might allow the village to walk away from the commission created eight years ago and go back to buying water from Springfield. The commission, the lawyers told the village board on Tuesday, was legally established, and trying to get out of it would invite lawsuits that would cost tens of millions of dollars. Even if the village paid off construction bonds issued to build a water plant that began operation in 2012, the lawyers said, it would still be obligated to buy water from the commission, which has been providing water too yucky for some residents to drink, although environmental regulators say it’s safe. “I know folks are frustrated and would like to get out of this,” attorney Barbara Adams told the board and audience. “Even if you were to pay off the bonds, you’ve got a contract that lasts until 2040.” Village residents, Adams and her colleague Greg Meeder told the board, are obligated to pay the commission’s costs both through water rates and property taxes. Meeder told the board that it should be spending money on engineers, not attorneys. “This is an engineering issue – an engineering issue can be resolved with engineers,” Meeder said. “To say the (commission) was not properly formed is not moving the ball forward.”

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