Wauconda approves deals for drinking water

Wauconda officials took another important step toward bringing Lake Michigan drinking water to town Tuesday by approving a pair of agreements needed for the plan.

The deals are with neighboring Volo, which is partnering with Wauconda on a new drinking-water system, and the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency, which is the group that will provide water to the villages if plans progress.

Volo trustees and the CLCJAWA board must approve the contracts, too, as well as the municipal boards the CLCJAWA members represent.

Those votes are expected by early December.

Wauconda Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner explained the contracts to trustees before the vote. They cover payments, fees and other costs of elements of the project, he said.

The board approved the deals with one unanimous vote.

"This is a historic night in Wauconda," Trustee Linda Starkey said.

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

But two years of negotiations slowed down after Mayor Frank Bart was elected in April 2013. He said he wanted to investigate all of the town's options, including joining a different water group or even sticking with the existing well system.

That hesitation and other factors led the Lake County Joint Action Water Agency board to temporarily stop negotiating with Wauconda in September 2013; talks resumed this spring.

If Wauconda joins the water agency, construction could begin in 2016 and be completed in summer 2018, officials have said. Water bills for typical homeowners will increase by about $43 a month, officials have said.

The scope and magnitude of the project "are unprecedented for the village," Maxeiner said Tuesday.

During the meeting's public comment section, Wauconda resident Tim Howe thanked the board for their work on the project.

"We as a community ... are very grateful for that," he said.

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