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Water hookup mandate must be addressed

Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST

It seems those with wells in Rock Falls, who are being required by local ordinance to hook up to the city’s water system, fall into what many municipalities have continuously complained about: an unfunded mandate. They must comply with some regulation that will cost them money.

Those municipalities have strongly and loudly complained about being required to comply with this new regulation. Those municipalities have individually and collectively (through the Illinois Municipal League) written letters, made phone calls, lobbied their respective legislators, and taken their issues to the media in hopes the regulation or requirement be changed.

The logic is, those who passed the legislation didn’t understand the impact the unfunded mandate would have on a municipal budget. So how is this any different for those well owners in Rock Falls, whose wells appear to be operating fine, being required to hook onto the city water system?

The EPA issued a statement that requires those with private wells within a certain radius of the former Reliant plant to hook up to city water because of problems with certain potentially unhealthy chemicals in those wells.

Yet, the city took that to mean all private wells in Rock Falls must comply – an unfunded mandate leveled against the hundreds of private wells.

There was an ordinance that covered private wells and the need to change those for issues like going dry, failing to pass safe water tests, sale of property, etc.

This ordinance seemed to work effectively enough.

Why the change?

Why the unfunded mandate?

Why create a problem when it could have been avoided by just dealing with the immediate issue and not blanketing the entire city?

Now, how can we go back when some have complied with this unfunded mandate?

It’s a difficult and complex issue for the City Council and mayor to address, sooner than later.

Note to readers – Edward M. Mulvaney was mayor of Rock Falls from 1997 to 2005.

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