Wauconda officials review proposed water deal with Volo

A long-awaited — and once-scuttled — deal to bring Lake Michigan drinking water to Wauconda moved one step closer to completion Monday night.

Village trustees on Monday reviewed a draft agreement with neighboring Volo that's necessary for both towns to join the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency. The board also went over a proposed membership agreement with the water consortium.

No action was taken on the contracts.

If the Wauconda and Volo boards formally approve the agreements next month, the nine-member CLCJAWA board is the next hurdle. It must vote to offer the towns membership, as must the village boards its members represent.

Public Works Director Brad Fink explained the terms of the proposed agreements to trustees Monday. He described how the costs of the project would be shared by Wauconda and Volo, with percentages varying depending on the expense.

For example, Wauconda would cover 76 percent of the cost of a route study for the water pipes, with Volo responsible for the remainder, Fink said. A cost estimate wasn't available, “but we expect that shortly,” he said.

The biggest expense will be the construction of the pipes. That'll cost an estimated $25 million, Fink said, and Wauconda will be responsible for about 70 percent of that sum.

Fink called the $25 million total “a pretty conservative number.”

As for the proposed admissions agreement, the document contains a clause mandating Wauconda's representative is a sitting trustee rather than the mayor, Fink said.

That line was crafted in response to conflicts the CLCJAWA board members had with Mayor Frank Bart after his election last year.

Negotiations between CLCJAWA and Wauconda officials collapsed because of those conflicts.

Wauconda Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner and trustees Lincoln Knight and Linda Starkey spent months repairing the damage and got the parties talking again.

“It's been a bit of a marathon,” Starkey told the Daily Herald before the meeting. “We're happy that the finish line is in sight.”

Round Lake Beach Mayor Rich Hill, the leader of the CLCJAWA board, is optimistic, too.

“I'm glad that we were able to get back on track with the Wauconda-Volo program,” Hill said in a telephone interview Monday.

The CLCJAWA board will discuss the proposal when it meets Aug. 27, Hill said. He expects the group will vote on the plan in October.

If the deals go through and CLCJAWA's pipes are extended to Volo and Wauconda, the towns could switch to Lake Michigan water in 2018, officials have said.

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