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updated: 12/4/2013 4:08 PM

Antioch again considers Lake Michigan water options

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Antioch is set to renew its efforts to bring Lake Michigan water to residents.

Village Administrator James Keim said he will seek requests for qualifications from consultants to determine the potential source and cost of bringing the valued resource to village taps.

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"I do want to draw a well qualified group of consultants," said Keim, who also is an engineer. "It's a big deal and a highly technical field."

Antioch is among the nine entities that in February 2011 were granted Lake Michigan water allocations by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

An early estimate had the cost of bringing Lake Michigan water to all the communities at $252 million.

At the time, the Lake Bluff-based Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency, which supplies Lake Michigan water to 12 communities, was not in the mix as a potential provider to the newcomers.

That changed after the agency revised its estimates of how much existing members would need. However, it was determined there was enough water supply for some but not all the potential new members. Antioch didn't make the cut, nor did Fox Lake.

"It became apparent rather quickly the entire planning group couldn't be served," Keim said. "Antioch geographically didn't look like the most viable partner."

By then, the original consortium had fragmented as communities dropped out to pursue other options.

Lake Villa, Lindenhurst and Lake County, which operates water systems serving Grandwood Park and Fox Lake Hills, stuck together and are the farthest along.

The Lake County Board last month approved a special taxing district covering those geographic areas to generate up to $46 million in property taxes to design and build the system. On Dec. 10, the county board is expected to approve the sale of $7 million in bonds as the first step in the process.

"It's basically the design effort for the piping extensions," Lake County Public Works Director Peter Kolb said. "We're moving along."

It should take a year to design and two years to build so it likely will be late 2016 or early 2017 before Lake Michigan water is flowing, he added.

Antioch has plenty of water to draw from and no issues with its nine wells, Keim said. But the village needs to think long range.

"The fact is, Lake Michigan water is one of the highest quality in the world. It's viewed as a better source," he said. "We don't have any real urgency. We have an abundant supply but we have to look for the future."

Lake Villa and Lindenhurst have become members of CLCJAWA. Antioch, Fox Lake, Wauconda and Volo continue to consider options.

Wauconda voters in 2012 approved a $50 million plan to connect to a Lake Michigan water system. The village had been negotiating with JAWA but the agency in September severed the relationship after two deadlines were missed and other concerns raised.

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