The River Forest Village Board of Trustees at its Aug. 21 meeting approved a $32,100 contract with an outside engineering firm to assess the town’s water infrastructure and forecast future improvements. 

Strand Associates will conduct the study, which River Forest has never undertaken before now. It will, officials said, help the village and potential developers understand whether existing infrastructure can, for instance, adequately service new developments like a multi-story residential building. If all goes well, a final report based on the study should be done by November. 

“If you bring on development, which we want to see here in the future, we want to make sure our system and our infrastructure have the actual capacity to go ahead and serve those developments,” Village Administrator Eric Palm said Aug. 21. “The only way to do that is to go through this analysis.” 

There are currently several possible projects pending in the village, including a new redevelopment agreement for Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue. The Promenade, a 29-unit residential development at 7820 Madison St., is in its final stages and began sales in June. 

The study will include storage and supply analysis as well as “system performance on average-day, max-day and max-day-plus fire demands,” according to Strand’s proposal. 

“We wanted to include it in the budget this year. There has been a little bit of a ramp-up of development in the village,” Director of Public Works John Anderson said of the study in an Aug. 23 phone call. “We are trying to be as proactive as possible.” 

The village does do annual upkeep and replacement projects on its water mains, based on past break history and year of installation, so the age of a pipe varies depending on its location in the village. 

“There’s plenty of pipes that have been underground for decades,” Anderson said. “There’s some blocks that have been replaced much more recently.”

This new study, however, will also incorporate water flow and pressure data. 

“We do a water main replacement project every year anyway,” Anderson said. “This would give us a better idea of what to do and where to replace.” 

Strand Associates, founded in 1946, has hundreds of employees and several offices across the country in Illinois, Texas and Kentucky. According to the proposal submitted to the village board, Strand has completed dozens of water analyses in Illinois and Wisconsin, including Glencoe, Niles and Wilmette.  

Anderson described the village’s current water infrastructure as “stable” but there are issues every so often.  

“Breaks happen, but those happen in every system from time to time. It is stable and we have good equipment and we have good storage capacity,” Anderson said. “Anything underground, water, sewer, if you’re not being proactive, it can go south on you and it takes a while to catch up.” 

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