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Trustees Reject Lake Michigan Water Consortium Pact

Trustees voted unanimously Monday night against approving the "memorandum of understanding" that would have required the village to invest $50,000 toward the plan to bring Lake Michigan water to a group of consortium communities.

Lake Zurich trustees voted unanimously Monday night against approving a measure that would require the village to provide $50,000 to the North-West Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group, an amount that would establish a governing agency, determine the costs to bring Lake Michigan water to the consortium communities and provide for a public education program.

Instead, the board agreed to give Public Works Director David Heyden the authority to report back to the group and inquire whether Lake Zurich can be solely involved with the public education portion of the pact.

The "memorandum of understanding" considered at Monday night's meeting would serve as the next step toward the plan to bring Lake Michigan water to several communities. Trustee Jonathan Sprawka pointed out, however, that the village hired the engineering firm Donahue/AB&H to look into possible alternatives to staying with the North-West Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group.

Heyden said because of Lake Zurich's proximity to other Lake Michigan water agencies, village officials decided to investigate other, less expensive options. The consultant from Donahue/AB&H talked to five other possible agencies and found a range of preliminary 20-year costs to have Lake Michigan water in Lake Zurich. The cost estimates ranged from $31 million to in excess of $176 million, Heyden said.

"None of those are steadfast, true numbers," Heyden noted.

Heyden recommended that the board not approve the "memorandum of understanding" and instead go forward with taking a detailed look at the potential costs associated with joining one of the alternate Lake Michigan water providers. He did recommend, however, that the board seek permission from the North-West Lake County group to stay involved for the public education portion.

Sprawka said his concern with staying with the group for the public education portion is that he doesn't want residents to get confused when it comes to the costs associated with the North-West Lake County group's costs.

"Obviously, we're looking for the most cost-effective option to bring Lake Michigan water here," he said.

Trustee Richard Sustich asked whether village officials can also look at the cost to maintain the village's existing water system instead of switching to Lake Michigan water.

Trustee Jeffrey Halen noted that the village hasn't been able to gauge the public's input on bringing Lake Michigan water to Lake Zurich. He is concerned about investing money into a project that residents may not be interested in.

Heyden said residents will soon be asked to complete a survey regarding their overall feelings about the village's water system, including the Lake Michigan water issue. Residents should expect to see information about that survey on their next water bills.

The board will decide its next move upon receiving word from the North-West Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group as to whether the village can stay on for just the public education program.

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