Water Plant History

The Water Filtration plant processes up to 2 million gallons of water per day. Upon the founding of Kenilworth, a source of drinking water was created in 1890. The first water supply consisted of a pump house on the lake with steam driven pumps. A suction well, (a shallow well using the lake bed sand to filter the water) was the first water source for the pumps and that was connected to several hundred feet of water mains to service the eastern part of the Village as the construction of homes got underway. As the Village grew, the Water Plant was updated in 1907 with replacement of steam power for the pumps. Gasoline engines were installed, and the water filtration was changed from the simple suction well sand filtration to an early style filtration unit.

As the community grew, so did water usage in the Village. In 1926, the pumps were changed from being gasoline engine driven to using electric motors to power the pumps, and the first use of chlorine came about with the installation of a chlorination system to improve water purity. The year 1926 brought about construction of the first water tower, a 200,000 gallon storage facility that allowed for steady water pressure throughout the Village.

In 1928, the Water Plant at the end of Kenilworth Avenue was designed and constructed. Prior facilities were a collection of somewhat primitive structures. The new plant was state-of-the-art for the time, and incorporated pumps, filtration and water storage in a building large enough to house all of the equipment in a single production facility. During 1939, as part of a WPA project, a new water holding tank (called a “clearwell”) was added to the lakefront facility.

In 1959, the plant was enlarged again with the additions being a new filter, two sedimentation basins (to allow for the settling of dirt in the lake water), new pumps, a revised chlorine storage, a second chlorinator, and another clearwell.

State and Federal water regulations were continually being updated, and in 1973, new rules were put into place. A new backwash system was built to comply with those rules. Two years later, new pumps were installed, and a new elevated water tower was built on the corner of Exmoor Road and Roger Avenue, replacing the tower built in 1926.

Throughout this period of eighty years, water mains, fire hydrants, and system updates were taking place that were part of the continual operation of the Water Plant.

Beginning in 1990, a series of changes took place over the next six years. To combat the increasing threat of Zebra Mussel infestations in the pipe from Lake Michigan, the Village installed a new water intake. To stop mussels from attaching to the inside of the pipe, causing it to close, a chlorination line allows for chlorine to be incorporated into the water as it flows toward the plant. New water quality standards for lead and copper were made law, and in 1993, after extensive testing, an EPA approved chemical, orthophosphate, began to be added to the water to inhibit the leaching of those metals from copper pipes and brass faucets inside a home.

Changes were made to the exterior of the plant in 1996 and 1997 with the replacement of windows and the roof membrane. Inside the plant, a chlorinator was updated and new chemical equipment and chemical storage tanks were added to comply with new regulations.

Final changes to the plant were started in 2001 as new EPA rules were being finalized. It was determined that the plant configuration and equipment would be unable to meet stringent new regulations that were going to be in effect in December 2003. The Village Board determined, with the help of Strand Associates, that major renovation of the plant was the least expensive method of complying with the new regulations, and the process for updating the plant and its operating systems began.

As the most complete renovation of the plant since its construction in 1928, every part of the plant is undergoing replacement or complete updating. The renovation project was completed in time for the opening of the Beach facilities for the summer of 2004 and brought the Water Treatment Plant to state-of-the-art status for the second time in a century. The renovation of the plant included complete renovation of the plaza and public areas, handicap access, new public restrooms, and additional plaza areas and green space. The water treatment plant and the Beach areas will be fully compliant with all state and federal regulations and building codes.