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updated: 9/13/2012 2:24 PM

Existing agency is best choice for Lake Michigan water, Lindenhurst decides

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Lindenhurst officials have selected what they consider the best option to bring Lake Michigan water to town.

The village board on Monday unanimously decided that joining the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency would provide the most cost-effective and quickest way to replace dwindling shallow wells with lake water.

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"We think, with this option, it could be as early as 2015," said Village Administrator Matt Formica. The estimated impact to residents would be $30 to $40 per month, he added.

The water agency, formed in the early 1990s to bring Lake Michigan water to 10 entities, would have to accept Lindenhurst as a member. A nonbinding "memorandum of understanding" will be developed within 60 to 90 days, according to Formica.

"That wasn't a final decision, it was just a step in the process," he said. The village plans to host public meetings on the topic.

In an effort that began about five years ago, Lindenhurst was one of several entities, including Lake County, that applied for and received Lake Michigan water allocations from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The idea was to form a new water agency to oversee an estimated $252 million project to deliver the water. Since then, other alternatives, such as contracting with an existing supplier such as Waukegan, or joining CLC JAWA have surfaced as possible alternatives for some of the original members.

But the Lake Michigan water situation has become a "moving target," said Peter Kolb, Lake County public works director.

Lake Zurich and Long Grove, for example, dropped out of the consortium. In Wauconda, voters will be asked on Nov. 6 whether the village should borrow $41 million to pay for work that would allow the village to receive Lake Michigan water.

"They (Lindenhurst) are the first one out of the box that has made a determination that connecting to CLC JAWA makes the most sense for them. It may be followed by others," Kolb said.

That became an option because CLC JAWA determined it has water available, Kolb said, but not enough for everyone.

Lindenhurst gets its water from shallow wells but the supply is limited. Demand at times this summer was more than double normal and the village still has an outdoor watering ban in place, which is scheduled to be lifted this weekend.

"For us, there is no 'do nothing' plan," Formica said.

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