How Lake County plans to spend $23.5 million in pandemic recovery funding
Sewer and water system improvements and technology upgrades top the project list in Lake County's latest appropriation of federal pandemic recovery funds.
The county board on Tuesday approved just over $23.5 million for 11 projects. The approval follows $41 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding appropriated by the board in March for a range of projects.
The bulk of the funding is for infrastructure. Two projects involving the Des Plaines River Water Reclamation Facility in Vernon Township near Buffalo Grove total $10 million, and three water system improvements total $6.1 million.
ARPA funding has more latitude for spending, unlike the $121 million in federal CARES Act funds the county received earlier in the pandemic to address immediate needs due to the public health emergency.
Counteracting harm to the economy, providing services to disproportionately affected communities, replacing lost revenue, and investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure are among eligible expenses for this round.
But as a reminder of the darker days of the pandemic, $900,000 was earmarked as reimbursement for the ongoing use of Microsoft Teams Voice to allow county officials to communicate.
The projects approved Tuesday were carry-overs from last month that required further detail and review to ensure they were eligible for ARPA funding, according to Matthew Meyers, assistant county administrator.
All projects are reviewed and recommended for approval to the full county board by a special committee.
The Des Plaines Water Reclamation Facility serves about 85,000 people in Buffalo Grove, Kildeer, Lake Zurich, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Riverwoods and unincorporated areas. It treats about 10 million gallons of wastewater each day.
One of the planned projects allocates $5.5 million for the installation of an ultraviolet disinfection system to reduce chemicals used in the treatment process.
Another $4.5 million will be used to replace sand filters with new disc filter technology to provide secondary treatment to a large volume of water. The sand filters need to be replaced, and the new ones have lower operation and maintenance costs, according to the county.
The project includes $2.5 million to upgrade the existing well water system for the Oak Terrace subdivision and West Oak Middle School near Mundelein. A new water main, well and well house will be built on school property for a more reliable supply for customers and the school.
In unincorporated Avon Township, $2.5 million is targeted to consolidate the privately owned Highland Lake Water Company with the county's system to provide additional water supply and storage.
And in the Buffalo Grove area, $1.1 million will be used to replace the current ground water method with Lake Michigan drinking water.
In technology-related projects, the Lake County state's attorney's office will receive $344,221 to digitize paper files for a new case management system and $266,000 to convert proprietary video into a nonproprietary format to be stored and shared electronically. The projects are part of a vision to move to a paperless system storing all case files electronically.
The list also includes $2.2 million for implementation and software licensing for an Integrated Case Management System for courts-related departments.
Lake County has received half its $136 million ARPA allocation. The money must be earmarked by the end of 2024 and spent by end of 2026.