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posted: 4/3/2014 5:30 AM

Volo approves water plan with Wauconda

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Volo trustees on Wednesday approved an agreement with Wauconda that once again partners the communities on a plan to bring Lake Michigan drinking water to residents and businesses.

A similar plan was in the works last year, but it collapsed at the eleventh hour.

"It's a long time coming," Volo Village President Burnell Russell said after the unanimous vote, which occurred during a special board meeting that was attended by all six Wauconda trustees and the town's public works director.

Wauconda Trustee Lincoln Knight, who helped negotiate the pact, thanked Russell and the trustees for their work on the deal.

"This is a great endeavor for both of us," Knight said. "I look forward to many years in partnership together."

Wauconda officials approved the deal at their own meeting Tuesday. It calls for Wauconda and Volo to share the costs of route studies, admission fees, pipe construction and other elements.

Wauconda will cover a greater percentage of the costs.

Now the towns' leaders have to persuade the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency board -- a collection of mayors from the region -- to reconsider Wauconda's membership application.

The agency board denied Wauconda membership in September 2013, saying they didn't like the village's repeated delays or the demands town officials had made during negotiations. The water agency opted to work with Volo the same night.

Officials don't yet know when the agency board will take up Wauconda's request.

As is the case in Volo, Wauconda homes and businesses get drinking water from local wells. Wauconda voters approved a $50 million plan to connect to a Lake Michigan water system in 2012.

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 and then collapsed after Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart took office in May 2013.

Bart took the blame for the debacle. He did not attend Wednesday's meeting in Volo.

Russell believes the agency board will come around.

"It's good for all of us," he said.

As a home-rule community, Volo officials didn't have to bring their funding plan for a new water system to voters.

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