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updated: 4/11/2014 4:36 PM

Despite earlier setback, Wauconda water plans moving forward

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  • Doug Maxeiner

      Doug Maxeiner

 
 

Wauconda's renewed quest for drinking water from Lake Michigan continues to sail forward through once-choppy waters.

The Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency's executive committee on Thursday agreed to forward Wauconda's request for membership -- along with similar requests from Antioch and Fox Lake -- to the agency's board of directors for consideration.

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Because their water supply isn't bottomless, the board will choose only one community to add to its 12-member roster.

But CLCJAWA officials once had favored Wauconda's membership -- at least until negotiations temporarily broke down last summer -- and board Chairman Rich Hill thinks that town may have an edge.

Wauconda's planned partnership with Volo -- a town the CLCJAWA board already has offered membership -- also is a plus, Hill said. So is Wauconda's ready-to-go financing plan.

Those factors make Wauconda "a preferential entity," said Hill, who's also Round Lake Beach's mayor.

Additionally, the proposals from Antioch and Fox Lake aren't as far along as Wauconda's, he said.

Still, last week, Hill expressed reservations about Wauconda's application, saying members of the CLCJAWA board didn't want Mayor Frank Bart to join them on the dais.

Bart has been widely blamed for the delays and disagreements that led to the collapse of negotiations last summer.

Feeling the pressure from Hill and his own community, Bart responded this week by saying he wouldn't serve on the CLCJAWA board if Wauconda is offered membership. He announced plans to nominate Trustee Lincoln Knight as the town's envoy, with Trustee Linda Starkey as Knight's backup.

That works for Hill.

"It puts them back in the game," he said.

Wauconda voters in 2012 approved a $50 million plan to connect to a Lake Michigan water system, and from the start CLCJAWA was the town's preferred provider. Homes and businesses now get water from local wells.

Wauconda Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner and other village officials -- including Knight and Starkey -- have worked to get the agency to reconsider the village for membership.

Maxeiner met with the CLCJAWA executive committee Thursday morning before it voted to recommend the three proposals. The committee consists of administrators from the member towns.

The full CLCJAWA board is expected to consider the Wauconda, Antioch and Fox Lake proposals when it meets April 23.

The board probably won't settle the matter then, Hill said.

"People will want to digest a little bit," he said.

A vote is possible at the board's next meeting, June 25, Hill said.

Membership requires a unanimous vote from the agency board.

Maxeiner is optimistic about Wauconda's chances. The town's agreement with Volo and its proximity to the other town are pluses, he said.

"We think we present a good business option for them," he said. "We think we have a pretty solid partnership and a (good) plan put together."

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