On January 19, 2011 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved requests for Lake Michigan Water Allocations submitted by several communities in northern and western Lake County. This was the first step in a complex, multi-step process to transition from ground water to Lake Michigan water in order to meet long-term water demands for this growing area. The Northern Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group (The North Group) is made up of communities that have been working on this project for more than six years, conducting feasibility studies and developing the allocation requests. The North Group project includes the communities of Lake Villa, Lindenhurst and Lake County (unincorporated areas of Fox Lake Hills and Grandwood Park).
Feasibility studies have shown that continued reliance on the aquifers in this area is not sustainable because of limited capacity in the aquifers and decreasing water quality. Demand for water has resulted in over-pumping of several aquifers creating low water levels and poor water quality.
The communities have installed 40 wells, 34 shallow wells and six deep wells. During the last 15 years, 12 of the shallow wells have been sealed or taken out of operation due to water quality or quantity issues.
Deep wells have provided a short-term solution, however quality issues require radium removal. In addition the water level of the deep aquifer is declining steadily at a rate of 7 feet per year. As growth rates in McHenry County and Southern Wisconsin rise, the rate of declining water levels will accelerate.
The next steps include finalizing an Admission Agreement to join the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency (CLCJAWA) and establishing Special Service Area #16 to fund the project. Once these steps are completed, bonds will be sold and the North Group will recommend proceeding with final design, then bidding, and finally construction of the water distribution pipelines.
The total estimated cost for the project is $43 million for a 22-mile water distribution pipeline extension from the CLCJAWA water treatment facility located in Lake Bluff. Each municipality has its own existing local distribution system. It is anticipated that the cost of design and construction would come from Special Service Area Bonds to be funded by property taxes in these specific communities included in SSA #16.
The cost of water purchased from CLCJAWA would be funded by monthly service charges on water bills. It is estimated that it will cost the average household about $40 more per month for Lake Michigan water delivered through this project.