BUCKLEY — Some village board members think that building a sewage-treatment system in Buckley could help the town land a gas station or other businesses, in addition to avoiding possible fines from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency as a result of residents’ existing septic systems discharging their waste into a nearby stream.
Some residents, however, think the proposed sewage-treatment system — at a cost of $3 million — would waste the town’s money on something it does not need.
Opinions from all sides were expressed during an informational meeting about the project attended by some 50 residents on Saturday at Christ Lutheran High School.
Some residents expressed concerns about the project’s cost, even though it was noted that the village expects to pay back only 55 percent of a loan it expects to get from the IEPA. Some residents said they were primarily concerned that they would need to pay as much as $25 per foot to run tile from their homes and link it to the proposed sewage system, in addition to having to pay to get rid of their existing septic systems.
Village engineer Larry Johnson, however, told residents that the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity will pay up to $5,000 of the cost for low-income residents to hook into the sewage system. Some residents were still concerned, saying it was not a "sure thing," but Johnson responded by saying that as long as they qualify based on their income, it is indeed a sure thing.
Johnson said Buckley is not yet being mandated by the IEPA to build a sewage-treatment system, but it soon could be. Johnson said that according to Terry Eimen, director of environmental health for the Iroquois County Public Health Department, the IEPA has been soliciting the names of communities with "wild-cat sewers" — those that have field tile running from the community to the nearest discharge stream — and Buckley is on the IEPA’s list.
Johnson said it is "anybody’s guess" what the IEPA intends to do with the list, but with the state’s current financial situation, he would not be surprised if the state uses it to raise revenue, perhaps by issuing fines to those communities.
Village board members said they want to see the town grow, not die, and the proposed sewage system could help in that regard.
"We need to find a safer way for our children," Trustee Ernie Hoopingarner said. "If we don’t do it now, what will happen later? We have an opportunity before us to really save money and advance the town, and I honestly believe if we have a sewer system we can maybe get a Casey’s (General Store) in town."