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George B. Prindle Water Plant History

City Hall and Water Tower 1893Highland Park's Early Water Supply
The City of Highland Park is one of the "North Shore" suburbs north of Chicago along the Lake Michigan shore. In 1850, Mr. Jacob Clinton Bloom founded the town of Port Clinton, which was later renamed Highland Park and chartered in 1869. The City's first municipal water supply was from an artesian well constructed in 1889. At that time, the population was about 2,000 residents. In the 1890s a water tower was added adjacent to the then City Hall located on Central Avenue near Green Bay Road.

This supply was soon exhausted and in 1893-1894 the artesian well was replaced with a steam-powered lakefront pump-station settling basin with a 16-inch intake pipe extending 2,230 feet into the lake. In time, the citizens of Highland Park became dissatisfied with the poor quality of this water (referred to in the local paper as "liquid mud"). As early as 1899, the City Council directed the superintendent of water works to design a water filtration system. 

Geo B in Lab 1
George B. Prindle in the lab

First Water Plant Construction
In 1927 the City Council commissioned the engineering firm of Pearse, Greely and Hanson to study the problem and design a new water plant utilizing conventional sand filtration. Conventional filtration uses coagulation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection to provide clean, safe drinking water the the public. The architect for the project was Mr. Arthur S. Coffin of Chicago. The engineers also supervised the construction of the plant. The resident engineer, Mr. George B. Prindle, stayed on to become the plant's first superintendent. 

His contributions to the City have been memorialized by the City Council, who named the plant in his honor. The construction of the water plant commenced in March of 1929. Thirteen months later, on April 16, 1930, the plant was put into service. The local press observed the dramatic difference in water quality and praised the remarkable clarity of the filtered water, the first in the City's history. 

Plant Features
The plant was the state-of-the-art at that time and featured its own chemical and bacteriological laboratory and new 4,160-volt electric motor-driven pumps. At that time, the population numbered 12,000 and required 840 million gallons of water per year. The plant was designed to supply 7 million gallons per day (MGD). The foresighted design provided for future plant expansion with minimal interference with production. 

During construction, a new half-million gallon elevated storage tank was designed and installed at the Central Avenue near Green Bay Road location. The water tower is 125 feet high and features a unique ornamental brick enclosure and is still used to this day.

Filter Table 1960Meeting the Growning Needs of Our Customers
The need for expansion became evident in post-war period. In 1958, the population served, including the growing Village of Deerfield, had increased to 37,000 persons. Water consumption reached 1,540 million gallons per year. At times the plant was being pushed to produce 10 MGD, considerably above its design capacity. Water shortages resulted, necessitating the imposition of lawn watering restrictions. Once again, the City Council employed Greeley and Hanson Engineers to design and supervise an addition to the plant. Ground was broken on February 25, 1960 for the addition designed to increase the plant's capacity to 14 MGD. This expansion project doubled the plant's settling basin and filter capacity, changed all of the pumps to 440 volt operation, updated the laboratory, provided a new chemical feed and mixing system and included a modern electronic control system. At this time, a new pump station and reservoir were constructed at the City's west edge to satisfy peak summertime demands and facilitate delivery of water to Deerfield. 

New Water Pump 1986Despite the above described plant enhancements and such interim improvements as another reservoir and pump station in 1970 and a new mile long 54 inch diameter intake in 1985, the plant once again reached its capacity. Summertime peak demands, while not yet necessitating sprinkler bans as in the 50s, were at the plant's limits. The City once again embarked on a plant renovation program. 

The engineering firm of Alvord, Burdick and Howson produced a plan which increased the plant's capacity to 21 MGD. Work was completed by May of 1988. This work included replacement of several pumps, re-building of the filters, a new chemical feed building addition, updating of the plant’s laboratory and a new computerized control and monitoring system. 

Since 1988, several plant improvement projects have been accomplished. 

  • A zebra mussel control system which protects our intake pipe from clogging by these mollusks was installed.
  • All but one of the 1960 vintage pumps at the plant have been replaced.
  • The water tower brickwork has been refurbished and the steel tank in the tower has been replaced.
  • A new, larger pipeline was built between the Water Plant to the Half-Day Road Reservoir.

Water Plant Upgrade
The City has made significant improvements to increase the drinking water output from 21 MGD to 30 MGD using newer treatment technology in the same water plant foot print.  

In 2012, the Water Plant Upgrade Project was awarded to the engineering firm CDM Smith. Ground was broken on February 15, 2013 for the change over from conventional sand filtration to a submerged membrane filtration system. This upgrade project included installation of new Low Lift Pumps, diesel generators, boilers, chemical storage areas and electrical components.

Work on the new membrane filtration system was completed on April 17, 2015.

The City is preparing for the future water needs of our residents as well as those of the other communities supplied by our water plant. We have developed a comprehensive long-range plan of phased improvements to our water treatment and distribution facilities which are being made as water demands increase. These plans provide for improvements in the quality of our product as well as quantity.