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posted: 4/4/2012 5:42 PM

Study outlines potential upgrades, options for Lake Zurich's water management plans

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By Mitchell Armentrout
marmentrout@dailyherald.com

The findings of a 10-month study outlines potential upgrades to Lake Zurich's water system infrastructure and could play a role in a new water supply for the village.

The report, presented Monday by a team of researchers, doesn't make specific recommendations to village trustees. However, it is expected to shape key decisions in coming months.

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"This was like a checkup at the doctor's office," Trustee Rich Sustich said. "We needed to see where our system stands and how we can improve it."

The report outlines options for the village as it pursues an integrated water resources plan that would unify the management of wastewater, potable water and stormwater now handled by different departments.

A potential switch to Lake Michigan water as the village's main water source is also analyzed in the report. Researchers suggested the village can continue to use aquifers that will eventually be depleted, or make the costly switch to implementing a system that brings in water from Lake Michigan.

"Some of these things we can start doing now," Public Works Director David Heyden said. "Others will need to wait for funding and staff."

The study offers less expensive strategies for improving the efficiency of the system, such as public outreach and education campaigns for handling wastewater and stormwater. It also provides possible funding sources through federal and state grants.

"We got a good snapshot of the situation, but now it's a matter of taking action that is reasonable given our funding abilities," Trustee Dana Rzeznik said.

The report is based on information gathered from March to December 2011 through a joint effort by the village with the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.

The research group analyzed Lake Zurich's current water system infrastructure and possibilities for updating it. They also conducted surveys and met with residents to gauge community concerns.

CNT wanted to conduct a test study in the region to create a template that could serve as an example for water resource management decisions in other areas.

"Lake Zurich is big enough to be an example for medium sized towns, but small enough that we could take a close look at its whole system," said Josh Ellis, program director at MPC.

Sustich said the study, carried out by nonprofit organizations, was a bargain for the village at a cost of about $8,000. Rzeznik estimated the cost at close to $20,000 when considering around 350 hours of Lake Zurich staff work.

"Something like this easily could've cost $50,000 from a private firm," Sustich said.

Rzeznik was more hesitant to embrace the options in the report. With financial constraints, she said decisions by the board on how to proceed wouldn't happen for several months.

"A lot of the options just aren't realistic for us right now," she said. "But these are still pressing issues and we can't shelve the topic."

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