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Lake County Public Works  

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need Lake Michigan water in the first place?
Since the early 1950s, suburban Chicago communities have experienced reduced water levels in their wells.  The near western and northwestern suburbs first experienced this problem, and as more people move to the northern suburbs, well water levels will decrease in those communities.
Western Lake County is now experiencing significant drops in water well levels. Experts tell us that unless something is done soon we will likely face serious regional water shortages.

If we switch to Lake Michigan water, will I see a difference in the water in my home?
Yes, in most cases, you will see improved water quality in your home. The existing community wells produce water that is very hard, which means it has a high mineral content.  Many people with hard water use a home water softener. Well water frequently contains elevated quantities of dissolved iron, which can discolor laundry, stain plumbing fixtures, and reduce the life of household appliances such as water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, coffee makers, etc.
Lake Michigan water, on the other hand, has only moderate hardness and almost no dissolved iron.  Many people with Lake Michigan water do not use a home water softener, and have no trouble with iron stains.

What is a Lake Michigan allocation and why is it important?
Within Illinois, the use of Lake Michigan water is controlled by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).  The County applied for and received an IDNR Lake Michigan Water Allocation Permit in February 2011.  The permit, however, is reviewed by the IDNR every 5 years.  If the County does not make positive strides toward obtaining Lake Michigan Water for the Fox Lake Hills and Grandwood Park systems, the IDNR can revoke the permit. 

Who is currently participating in this Lake Michigan water supply project?
The communities who are currently participating in a Lake Michigan water supply project include: Lake Villa, Lindenhurst, Wauconda, Volo, and Lake County (unincorporated areas of Fox Lake Hills and Grandwood Park, which are serviced by Lake County Public Works).

How will Lake Michigan water come to my home?
Present plans include the construction of 22 miles of a water transmission main connecting to CLCJAWA’s existing system.

How much will Lake Michigan water cost?
A typical homeowner with a $200,000 home and water usage of 6,000 gallons per month would see a monthly increase of $37.56 in combined cost, or roughly $1.25 per day.  

Will my streets be torn up with construction?
Most of the communities in the system already have local water mains in the streets to deliver water to homes and businesses.  The Lake Michigan water supply pipeline will connect to the local distribution water mains. This means that local streets will not be disrupted.
There will be major construction to install the Lake Michigan water main to connect from CLCJAWA’s system to each community.  For the most part, this construction will take place along major roads. Construction planning will include provisions to maintain traffic during the construction period.
Water mains will need to be installed in areas that do not presently have local water mains and that construction will impact local streets. Once again, traffic will be maintained during construction.

If I do NOT live in Grandwood Park does this water decision still affect me?
The Grandwood Park Water System provides water to several nearby subdivisions. The subdivisions included in this service area include: Brookside, Bridlewood, Grandwood Park, Mill Creek Crossing, Deerpath, Cedar Ridge, Hutchins Woods, Shires of Cambridge and Stratton Oaks Subdivisions.

Who makes the ultimate decision on our future water supply?
The final decision will be made by the Lake County Board.

When will the final decision be made?
A decision is anticipated in the summer of 2013.  As additional information on timing becomes available residents will be informed. 

When will Lake Michigan water be available for my community?
Water delivery from Lake Michigan is anticipated in 2017.

What portion of the taxes expires in 2018?
The existing 30 year CLCJAWA tax will expire in 2018. For a $200,000 house this represents $30.96/year ($2.58/month).

Will the new taxes be billed monthly? 
No. The example from the brochure was illustrated as a monthly equivalent of the annual tax.

Will we continue to have quarterly water/sewer bills from Lake County?
No.  Lake County water/sewer bills will transition to a bi-monthly billing period later this year. A projected bill may be obtained from the Public Works Department.

Why is such a high portion of the cost assigned to property tax component rather than the water rate component?
The design and construction of the water piping extensions (estimated at $8.3 million) must be funded with tax dollars, because there is no revenue from the sale of water until the construction is completed and water can be delivered to the customers (scheduled for 2017).  Upon completion of construction and delivery of Lake Michigan water to customers, the additional water rate pays CLCJAWA for the cost of purchasing their water and the connection fee.

What is a Special Service Area (SSA)?
An SSA is a funding mechanism for public improvements such as water delivery systems.  An SSA follows a legal process, which includes a public hearing, to establish the amount of money needed to fund the improvements in the area with the costs distributed among the properties receiving the service. 

When does the SSA tax expire?
The SSA tax will expire once the bonds are paid off – typically between 20 and 30 years.

Just because my house is valued higher, why am I assessed a higher SSA tax to receive Lake Michigan Water?
This is the most appropriate and only funding mechanism that can be used to sell bonds of this magnitude.  Using the value of your home to determine your share of the tax burden is the same mechanism for funding other services rendered to properties such as fire protection, police protection, parks, schools, etc.


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Peter E. Kolb, Director
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Libertyville, Illinois 60048