Weather Updates

JAWA membership expansion a possibility

Updated: February 3, 2013 1:15AM

The Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency’s Executive Director Darrell Blenniss Jr., said the agency continues to meet the needs of supplying quality Lake Michigan drinking water to its nine members in 12 communities and welcomes possible membership expansion from other villages.

The agency operates on a $24.7 million annual budget with nearly 60 percent as debt related in paying for construction of the system. The original revenue bonds will retire in 2021, and general obligation bonds, financed by a property tax, retire in 2019, Blenniss indicated.

Water began flowing through JAWA’s pipes in March 1992. Its major revenue source is the sale of water, currently at $2.65 per 1,000 gallons to its members.

A 3,000-foot Lake Michigan water intake brings water through a shoreline pumping station to its Lake Bluff water treatment plant. The processed water is then distributed to the nine member communities through 32 miles of transmission pipes. A booster pumping station is located in Libertyville with a 9.6 million gallon standpipe there, and another elevated tank near Grayslake.

Blenniss said the agency periodically receives inquiries from various communities who wish to affiliate with JAWA and he said the board is generally receptive to exploring the situation.

Ground water, that for years many inland communities counted on for their drinking supply, has become scarce or even contaminated in some areas, so the only option for an inland community is to tap into Lake Michigan water through JAWA, Blenniss said.

“We have conducted engineering studies that show expansion is feasible. Of course, ironing out the details is crucial. Applicants must meet our criteria and be approved by all our current member communities,” Blenniss said.

He said increases in water sales volume could lead to a reduction in the agency’s wholesale water rate by up to 20 percent, he said.

Blenniss acknowledged that Gurnee was one of the original nine members when the agency was established in 1987, and pointed out that Mayor Kristina Kovarik currently serves on JAWA’s board of directors, while Village Administrator Patrick Muetz serves on the executive committee.

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