ROUND LAKE – Round Lake sees itself as a winner, regardless of whether Wauconda joins a regional water alliance.
And the dozen members of the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency, including Round Lake, expect to see lower water bills when new towns sign on.
Volo appears to be on board with joining the agency, which formed in the early 1990s to get water from Lake Michigan for area towns.
Wauconda, meanwhile, has been iffy, with its mayor, Frank Bart, angering others towns' leaders. Recently, the village board named one of its members to act as the representative in negotiations with the agency, after other towns said they wanted Bart to stay away.
Darrell Blennis, the agency's executive director, is optimistic a deal will get done between his entity and Wauconda and Volo.
He hopes the board can approve a final agreement with the two towns at its June 25 meeting, but he said key people's vacations may prevent that from happening.
"We'll shoot for the June meeting, but that's an aggressive timetable," Blennis said.
Whichever way Wauconda goes, Round Lake sees itself as benefitting, Mayor Daniel MacGillis said, calling it a "win-win" for the village. If only Volo joins, water would be taken through Round Lake, which would mean better infrastructure that could help with water supply for Round Lake's south side, the mayor said.
If Wauconda and Volo both join, he said, Round Lake still wins with a south route that will provide redundancy for the village's water system, which would provide another source of water.
"Now, if there is one catastrophic break, your system is down," the mayor said.
In either case, the new members would pay for the improvements.
"We need better water supply on the south side," MacGillis said. "It's the newest part of town, south of [state Route] 60. Those are the newest subdivisions added to the village. We didn't catch up with infrastructure improvements. We need to make the investment there."
Blennis said the agency wants both Wauconda and Volo to join.
The towns "want a high-quality water source," he said. "Lake Michigan is that. It's a great quality source of water. It's reliable. Groundwater gets overtaxed and tends to dry up on you."
For the existing members, Blennis said, the reason to invite towns to join is simple.
"With more members, we'll be able to give rate relief," he said. "It's economies of scale."