Wauconda officials are giving residents thirsty for Lake Michigan drinking water a trickle of hope.
"Stay tuned," Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner told the relatively small crowd at Tuesday's village board meeting. "It's going to break pretty quick here."
Maxeiner's remark was a response to a question from local business owner Maria Weisbruch about the ongoing efforts to repair relations with the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency and with Volo officials.
Wauconda had a $50 million, voter-approved plan to team with Volo for a new CLCJAWA pipeline for drinking water. It would replace the town's well system.
The proposal evaporated in September 2013 when the CLCJAWA board formally broke off ties with the village, citing Wauconda's refusal to finalize the deal on their terms and timetable.
Mayor Frank Bart drew the brunt of criticism for the deal's collapse, both from the trustees and the community, because of demands he'd made during negotiations. The plans also slowed down considerably after his election in April 2013.
Since then, Maxeiner and trustees Lincoln Knight and Linda Starkey have been trying to get back on board with Volo and CLCJAWA.
Maxeiner joined the village staff in November, after the CLCJAWA talks fell apart. On Tuesday, he indicated things are heading in a good direction for the town.
"I've been making a lot of trips to Volo in the last months or so," Maxeiner said. "We've made some progress."
Resident Steven Schaefer followed up by asking if Volo has given Wauconda a deadline.
"I really can't comment on that," Maxeiner said. But Maxeiner did say he and his team are aware of the timetable CLCJAWA set for Volo, after Wauconda was cut out of the plan.
"We're working to get our ducks in a row to move forward," Maxeiner said.
Bart did not attend Tuesday's meeting, so Knight led the discussions all evening. The mayor missed last week's session, too, and his back-to-back absences drew criticism from some people in the audience Tuesday.
Bart skipped last week's meeting to attend Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's primary victory party in Chicago. He was seen on TV news reports in the crowd, and snippets of that video circulated among Wauconda residents via social media last week.