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Great Lakes Article:

Rural residents seek water access without annexation
By Tona Kunz
Chicago Daily Herald
April 15, 2003


Pollution from Lockformer Co. has left more than just area wells contaminated. It has put a bad flavor on relationships between homeowners and those who can help them get clean water.

Some Suburban Estates residents in an unincorporated area near Woodridge have hired an attorney to fight the deal they have been offered for clean water.

"Nobody is looking out for our interests," homeowner Terry Lohse said.

The neighborhood's wells are contaminated, and residents want to tap into Lake Michigan water through the village of Woodridge and the DuPage Water Commission. Lohse also wants to do that without being forced to annex to the village, as neighborhoods in Downers Grove and Naperville were allowed to do. Staying unincorporated, she said, will keep taxes low, property values high and maintain the neighborhood's rural feel.

Woodridge officials say just because other communities provide water hookups to those outside their boundaries doesn't mean they will as well.

Although user fees will pay off loans to build the water lines, the village backs the loan. By agreeing to potentially annex in 10 years, users give the village a type of collateral and help fulfill the long-range goal of absorbing land in the village's planning circle.

"If you want municipal services, then join us as a community," village Administrator John Perry said.

How the villages handle the request for water is up to them, said Roger Jenisch, chairman of the DuPage County Public Works Commission, which is reviewing the water offer.

"I really wish the municipalities would get beyond forcing people to annex for water because we are all paying the quarter-cent sales tax" to the DuPage Water Commission, he said. But as long as Woodridge offers the water to nearby homeowners and at a reasonable rate, it conforms to the DuPage Mayors and Managers agreement.

Besides, Jenisch said, the annexation agreement is as good those agreements get.

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