Residents push for lake water
By Marlene Hunt
Evanston Review (IL)
Published October 28th, 2004
Residents in four unincorporated subdivisions in Libertyville
Township want Lake Michigan water for their homes. They
say well water supplied by the Countryside Water System
contains radium and contaminants that exceed water quality
standards established by the Environmental Protection
The 500 families seeking the water live in Countryside
Manor, Libertyville Estates, Ashford Trails and Terre
Fair subdivision. To extend the water lines, Lake County,
which receives its water allocation from the Central Lake
County Joint Action Water Agency, indicates it is willing
to absorb the estimated $750,000 connection costs.
The county was scheduled to present its new findings
to the water agency Wednesday evening. The agency's board
was to have voted on the issue at that time.
A previous motion to extend water to the areas, subject
to a tap-on fee of several thousand dollars, failed in
a tie vote with six of nine members present, said Ed Glatfelder,
executive director of the water utility.
Residents favor an Illinois EPA requirement requiring
a written agreement for the county to comply with federal
regulations for water purity by a stated deadline. The
county department of public works indicated new connection
fees would not apply to the residents requesting the extension
since the houses in question already paid a connection
fee to tap into the Countryside Manor system.
The county's new forecast, part of its framework plan
that projects water demand based on land use and future
development, shows the water agency has enough water available
to supply all members' needs, including the Countryside
Water System, should board members grant the request.
"We are exposed daily to water that is high in radium
and dangerous for my family and children," said Countryside
Manor resident Darlene Schick on Friday. "I'm told
our water system's use would be only a drop in the bucket
to the Joint Action Water Agency, that there is enough
water for us."
Residents, including Millie Kepler, a resident of the
Terre Fair subdivision, blame Libertyville Mayor Duane
Laska for not pushing their request before the Central
Lake County Joint Action Water Agency, the water utility
board, which he heads.
"Despite our support of (Libertyville), Mayor Laska
has refused to give us the clean water we need for health.
This astounds us," Kepler wrote in a letter to Pioneer
Press. Pioneer Press received several letters this week
from residents on this issue.
"Water capacity is a serious issue," countered
Laska, who chairs the agency board. He reported that the
water agency could not meet its peak demand on three occasions
over the past seven years.
The water agency controls the distribution of Lake Michigan
water for member communities. Glatfelder indicated the
agency's calculations differ from the county study in
terms of peak capacity, and not basic demand.
Equity issues are also a concern as member communities
accepted the financial risks of the water system funded
by property taxes paid by their residents for the past
15 years. The communities are represented by village presidents,
or their alternates, who determine water-related policies.
The communities that formed the utility and underwrote
the $100 million construction of water lines from Lake
Michigan to the central Lake County communities include:
Grayslake, Gurnee, Lake Bluff, the Round Lake consortium,
Libertyville, Mundelein and Lake County.
The county, a founding member of the agency network,
supplies water to Vernon Hills, Wildwood, Knollwood and
Lake Michigan water allocation is controlled by the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources. Since 2001, the department
allowed few increases. One provided for an additional
water allocation for Round Lake and another change allowed
the county to transfer the Bradley Road system water allocation
to the Knollwood-Rondout system.
The water agency policy allows water service to non-member
municipalities only if there is a contaminated water supply
or an inadequate supply of water.
JAWA officials say they want to review results of their
own survey that forecasts water demand and future needs.
"Capacity is the issue with the board," Glatfelder
said. "JAWA is not in the business of selling water;
it exists to supply the water needs of its members. The
problem with extending service to outside areas or taking
on new customers is that we lack definitive information
on our ability to meet current and future needs of the
Glatfelder said that the water agency has a contractual
commitment to its members: "Many are not totally
built out yet; hence, we have to project and be able to
meet their needs before ascertaining there is excess capacity
to sell outside the system."
Laska also underscored the need to recognize and plan
for the future water demands of all of its members. He
said the agency's new population demand study will define
the locations of need and determine water demand before
the agency takes future action on problem areas.
"There are significant areas in the county that
were developed on small water systems, or with well and
septic systems that are close to existing members. The
problem becomes where do you stop and who are going to
serve. JAWA can't serve them all at this time," Laska
Marlene Hunt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org