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updated: 4/2/2014 10:10 AM

Wauconda officials take two more steps toward lake water

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  • Wauconda officials took action Tuesday night in an effort to bring Lake Michigan water to the village.

       Wauconda officials took action Tuesday night in an effort to bring Lake Michigan water to the village.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer


Wauconda officials took action Tuesday night in an effort to bring Lake Michigan water to the village.

Village board trustees accomplished the trick in two 6-0 votes.

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First, they agreed to strike a deal with neighboring Volo to pursue design, construction and installation of a $50 million pipeline to the area. Then the village board agreed to formally ask the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency to reconsider Wauconda becoming a member.

Trustee John Barbini was among the elected officials who voiced satisfaction with the moves that were needed if lake water is to become a reality for Wauconda.

"Life can be a very funny thing," Barbini said. "It's not often second chances come along in life."

Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner cautioned that Wauconda has more barriers to clear.

Wednesday night, the Volo village board will be asked at a meeting to approve its end of the deal with Wauconda. That would be followed by the water agency considering whether to erase a previous decision and grant membership to Wauconda.

Wauconda homes and businesses get drinking water from local wells. Voters approved the $50 million plan to connect to a Lake Michigan water system in 2012. That included $41 million in loans, some of which already have been collected.

But the water agency board stunned Wauconda leaders and residents in September 2013 when it formally broke off talks and voted to go ahead solely with Volo.

Village officials had worked for two years on a deal with Volo to join the water agency, which serves 12 communities. But the process slowed after Mayor Frank Bart took office in May 2013.

Agency officials cited those delays and demands Wauconda's representatives made during the negotiations among the reasons for the "no" vote.

Bart publicly took the blame for the village's failure and removed himself from the group that had been negotiating with the agency.

Trustees Linda Starkey, Lincoln Knight and Barbini received kudos from their colleagues for working quietly to get the water agency to reconsider membership for Wauconda and to repair a broken relationship with Volo. Maxeiner and other village employees were lauded as well.

"I think we're heading in the right direction. but we're not there yet," Starkey said.

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