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Article posted: 12/24/2013 5:30 AM

Getting Lake Michigan water could cost Lake Zurich $43 million

Lake Zurich residents currently get their drinking water from deep wells, but village officials are considering a ballot measure next year asking voters whether they would support issuing $43 million in bonds to pay for a pipeline running Lake Michigan water to the town. The other option, officials say, is $16.5 million in upgrades to the current water system.

Lake Zurich residents currently get their drinking water from deep wells, but village officials are considering a ballot measure next year asking voters whether they would support issuing $43 million in bonds to pay for a pipeline running Lake Michigan water to the town. The other option, officials say, is $16.5 million in upgrades to the current water system.

 

Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Jodie Hartman

Jodie Hartman

 
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Preliminary estimates show it could cost $43 million to bring Lake Michigan drinking water to Lake Zurich, where officials say more discussion is needed before deciding whether to attempt to move from deep wells.

An engineering consultant recently updated the village board on the potential costs of upgrading the current well system or constructing a pipeline for Lake Michigan drinking water from Arlington Heights to Lake Zurich.

Manhard Consulting Inc.'s Greg Gruen said the village's most efficient option for a Lake Michigan pipeline would entail joining the Northwest Water Commission. Evanston supplies water to the commission's members, which includes Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights and Palatine.

Gruen said the cost could be $43 million for a pipeline from Arlington Heights. The 2-foot-diameter pipe would run along Rand Road and swing west to Quentin Road, he said.

It could cost $16.5 million for an upgrade to Lake Zurich's deep well system, with work including new water softening equipment, he said.

Mayor Thomas Poynton said officials need more information before considering whether voters should be asked next November to approve funding for a lake water pipeline.

"We have to get to a point where we trust the numbers on both sides," Poynton said. "We've got a lot more digging to do."

Finance Director Jodie Hartman said the village would need a referendum seeking permission to borrow the $43 million through a bond sale to investors. She said the village hypothetically would spread the debt payments over 30 years at 5 percent annual interest.

Hartman said "really rough numbers" indicate an owner of a $300,000 home would pay an extra $350 to $400 in village property tax annually for lake water. It might be $400 for an average household if the debt were applied to monthly water bills, she said.

"Keep in mind, these are all very broad estimates," Hartman said. "This is nothing to be used to make the decision off, but just to kind of give some perspective to what we're talking about."

Gruen said the pros to upgrading Lake Zurich's current system include spending less money.

Among the negatives are long-term supply problems and no regulations on how much well water municipalities may use.

Lake water would be a sustainable long-term solution on the plus side, said Gruen, with minuses including the cost and necessity of depending on an outside agency for the supply.

In 2012, 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.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources granted a Lake Michigan drinking water allocation to the village in 2011.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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