Wauconda waits on water

Updated 10/27/2010 5:27 PM

Wauconda officials appear willing to contribute $50,000 toward an effort get Lake Michigan water, but won't sign any checks until they know if the water will be allocated.

That conclusion is the same reached by most other entities in the Northern Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group, which is pursuing what is estimated as a $252 million plan.

Wauconda trustees meeting as a committee of the whole on Tuesday discussed an agreement, to be approved by all consortium members, and asked that the contribution not exceed $50,000.

"They wanted to make sure it was expressly understood and expressly noted," said Peter Kolb, Lake County public works director.

Lake County is part of the water planning group for systems it operates in Grandwood Park and Fox Lake Hills. The other members are Antioch, Volo, Wauconda, Lake Zurich, Lindenhurst, Lake Villa, Long Grove and Fox Lake.

Each has applied to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for an allocation of Lake Michigan water. The agencies made their pitches early this year, but a decision has not been forthcoming.

"We really expected to hear a long time ago," Wauconda Village Administrator Dan Quick said. "Before they pass the (agreement), they're going to wait until we hear about the allocation."

Kolb said there has been "no indication at all" from the state when that might happen but the members remain optimistic.

So far, only the county and Volo have paid. Lindenhurst has adopted the agreement but has not paid.

"We have some questions as far as accessibility with budgets and things like that," Antioch Mayor Larry Hanson said. "We're not going to keep handing checks over."

The move to seek Lake Michigan water as a reliable source to replace dwindling supplies began about four years ago. Members of the alliance chipped in for research and other work, but those funds have been exhausted.

The next step is to secure $500,000 to pursue other tasks if the allocation is approved. Those include legal and engineering work, project management, a financial adviser and a public education campaign.

"Basically, we've put everything on hold. The car is parked waiting to be fired up and driven out," Kolb said.

He said the public education campaign will be an important part of a long process. A preliminary assessment showed the owner of a $300,000 home could pay $426 more a year in taxes and fees for the system.