for water crunch
By Dave Wischnowsky
Published August 18, 2006
With Lake County's booming growth expected to eventually
strain its limited water supply--even with Lake Michigan
nearby--a handful of communities are banding together
to ensure that they won't one day be left high and dry.
Antioch, Fox Lake, Lake Villa, Lindenhurst and Old Mill
Creek have agreed in principle to help fund a study that
would look into sources of water for the future, said
Lake County Public Works Director Peter Kolb.
The study, which is spearheaded by the county and would
cost $48,000, would include a projection of the participating
towns' populations for 2025, what their water demands
would be at that time, what supply options could be available
and the costs involved.
All of the municipalities, which now draw water from
shallow wells and surface sources, are in north Lake County
west of Interstate Highway 94, where rapid growth is anticipated
in coming years.
"It's no secret that as villages and population
continue to grow in the region, we're certainly going
to need more and more water," said Wes Walsh, Lindenhurst's
director of public works.
"For the long term for our villages and residents,
we need to do something."
On Monday, Lindenhurst's Village Board voted to contribute
$8,000 to the study.
When the County Board's Public Works and Transportation
Committee meets Aug. 29, Kolb said he expects to announce
that Antioch, Fox Lake, Lake Villa and Old Mill Creek
also have made financial commitments.
If the committee then gives the green light to proceed
with the study, it would take five or six months to complete,
A report released in December by the Metropolitan Planning
Council and other conservation groups warned that in 20
years the county's population growth could outpace its
In response to that report, Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued
an executive order for state agencies to develop a comprehensive
water management plan for the Chicago area and a swath
of central Illinois.
Worries about the county's future water supplies arose
during last summer's drought. Many towns draw their water
from shallow aquifers and surface sources, which Kolb
said already are spread thin.
Deep welling is not the best option because of radium
in the water, which is expensive to treat.
And while about a dozen communities in the county, including
Libertyville, Gurnee and Mundelein, pump in water from
Lake Michigan through the Central Lake County Joint Action
Water Agency, that membership is limited.
The amount of water that can be drawn from the lake is
tightly controlled by the U.S. government, and Kolb said
the county's supply is spoken for.
In its study the county would look into whether additional
communities could eventually tap into Lake Michigan water.
The study also would examine potential water conservation
measures and continue the mapping of the county's underground
"With continued development, there are two big issues"
related to water, Kolb said. "One, where will the
water come from? And two, what will we do with wastewater?
... We want to get the full picture of what options we