Lake Zurich trustees discuss tapping Lake Michigan water allocation
BY LAURA PAVIN For Sun-Times Media | @LauraPavinNews October 15, 2013 3:40AM
The current, manual filtering system in water treatment, which will soon be replaced with a newly designed filtering system, at the Highland Park Water Treatment Plant. | Mark Ukena~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 16, 2013 6:24AM
Noting that their time may be running out, Lake Zurich trustees hope to soon make a decision about the village’s long-discussed switch from ground to lake water.
At an Oct. 5 workshop meeting, Manhard Consulting representative Greg Gruen told the village board that it has until Sept. 30, 2015 to show the Illinois Department of Natural Resources significant progress toward utilizing its Lake Michigan water allocation.
Should the allocation be revoked, Gruen said the village would have the option to reapply. He noted that it would likely be more difficult the second time around due to the limited number of allocations remaining, and the anticipated rise in demand for Lake Michigan water.
“The Supreme Court capped the diversion, the cubic feet per second, that can be diverted away from Lake Michigan and, basically, 95 percent of the allocations have already been given out, Lake Zurich being one of them,” Gruen said.
In 2011, Lake Zurich was one of 10 communities in Lake County granted allocation. The North-West Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group had worked for four years prior to that on feasibility studies and requests for allocations.
Regarding its current water supply system, the village must address the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s increased regulations on radium residuals, specifically in regard to the residuals used in the sludge that farmers use for their land.
Once ground water is pumped out of the deep aquifer, the radium residuals are sent to a waste water treatment facility where it is typically mixed into a sludge that farmers apply to their fields; but new regulations have made it harder to find farmers that are still willing to purchase the sludge.
“Staying on groundwater, it is my opinion that some radium removal ... some mechanism to deal with these radium residuals will be needed and upgraded for your drinking water plants,” Gruen said.
He also pointed out that deep aquifer pumping, in general, has exceeded the sustainable level of 65 million gallons per day.
Lake Zurich’s pursuit of Lake Michigan water stems from concerns that the current supply won’t be able to accommodate the projection that the community will require 2.8 million gallons per day by 2030.
At the board’s Committee of the Whole workshop Oct. 5, some residents asked trustees if the village could keep its ground water system for residential properties and tap into its Lake Michigan allocation for the growing business community.
Resident Chris Stahoviak was skeptical about the need for lake water, explaining that he’d seen estimates that the project could cost about $27 million, raising his water bill by about $500 per year.
“Let’s look at the economy today: There are people in Lake Zurich, in record numbers, going to food pantries,” he said. “A $48 to $50-a-month increased water bill — can people really afford that much of an increase in their water bills to pay for this?”
He also questioned if lake water is safer, noting that contaminates continue to be found in the Lake Michigan water supply.
Mayor Tom Poynton said the issue will be discussed again in November during future board workshop meetings. The deadline to place a referendum on the spring primary ballot is Dec. 30, Poynton added.