Lake Zurich officials have about two years to show progress in trying to tap into a Lake Michigan drinking water supply allocated to the village or risk losing it.
An engineering consultant provided an overview about Lake Zurich's current deep-well system and the possibility of shifting to lake water during a nonvoting village board committee meeting Saturday.
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Officials expect to receive cost comparisons of lake and well water for another meeting on the subject in November.
"We've batted this around for several years," village Trustee Jonathan Sprawka said. "We've got the (lake water) allocation. We're at the crossroads of either jumping in or saying, 'No thanks, we're going to go with what we have.'"
Manhard Consulting Inc.'s Greg Gruen said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources granted a Lake Michigan drinking water allocation to the village in 2011. While the state agency may not strictly enforce a Sept. 30, 2015, deadline for the village to move on the lake water it's entitled to receive, said Gruen, officials must start doing something significant or risk losing the allocation.
"To me," Gruen said, "making progress means working out deals with the suppliers, working om a route, working toward engineering. They (IDNR) are very patient, but there has to be some progress."
Last year, some village board members said they wanted to put a referendum question on the ballot asking whether voters would support borrowing $29 million through issuance of construction bonds to lay pipe necessary for lake water. However, the question never made it to the November 2012 ballot.
Mayor Thomas Poynton said at Saturday's session that village officials hit a wall regarding lake water in 2012. He said the Lake Zurich village board has until Dec. 30 to pass an ordinance for an advisory referendum to go before the voters next spring.
Lake Zurich is on a system with wells 1,300 to 1,400 feet deep that reach into an aquifer, Gruen said. He said the water contains radium and must be softened to be fit for drinking.
"Generally, it's good water quality expect for radium, which is a naturally occurring element," Gruen told the village board.
Resident Chris Stahoviak spoke at the meeting and expressed concern about Lake Michigan water impurities. He also questioned whether lake water would be too expensive for residents.
"What are we going to get?" Stahoviak said of lake water. "What's the quality? We don't know."
Gruen said Lake Zurich officials will need to go beyond cost in weighing the pros and cons of lake and well water. He said the village must explore financing options for a Lake Michigan pipeline or upgraded equipment to remove radium from the well water.