Effort to Fight Rampant Growth Unveiled in Kishwaukee River Watershed

A new form of local government—a water authority–is being proposed to counterbalance the forces of rampant growth in McHenry County.

The Kishwaukee watershed

The Kishwaukee watershed

Or as Woodstock resident John Kunzie, a leader of the “Stop the Stacks” movement, put it, some folks object seriously to

“the county board’s seeming desire to blacktop the entire county…

“The real issue is the protection of our water, which is our most precious resource.  And, that’s all that needs to be said.”

Kunzie became attuned to water usage when he discovered that a gas-fired electric generating plant would take enough water out of the ground to supply a 6,000-person city water for a year.

Rob Perbohner put it more lawyer-like, but that’s probably because he is one:

The threat is what may be coming. The county study has confirmed that there are (water) shortages and there will be more significant shortages in 2020 with some of the eastern townships and, then, in 2030, there will be additional townships projected to have similar shortages.

The “solution” would be called the Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority and would include much of rural McHenry, and all of rural Boone and DeKalb Counties.

Spearheading the effort is a group called the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water.

“A-LAW,” for short

The group has issued a press release with a Woodstock byline, which you can read here.

The press release says a water authority has

“the power to regulate the permitting of any new wells for high capacity residential, municipal, industrial and commercial users.

“The authority can monitor and conserve ground water and protect important ground water recharge areas within the authority.

“Existing wells at current usage levels are not affected. Also, wells serving agricultural uses along with residential wells that serve less than four single-family homes are exempt from regulation.”

What’s the impetus for A-LAW?

“Members of A-LAW first came together to fight against adoption of a staff-drawn, development friendly, 2020 Comprehensive Plan being considered by the McHenry County Board earlier this year.

“During the County Board meetings, it was observed that farmers and residents in the rural areas of the County did not have fair representation before the Board.

“A major issue to residents of the rural areas of the County was how more development would affect their most important resource in the county – ground water.

“ue to the concern that development would continue to dominate control over future zoning and planning in the county, A-LAW members searched for a vehicle to provide the local community with the ability to monitor, protect and control usage of their ground water.”

What’s the cost?

Petitions will be passed asking for a 3-cent per $100 of assessed valuation tax rate.

J. Dale Berry, rural Marengo resident, estimated the cost at $25 a year on a $250,000 home.

It is noted that it costs $75 a foot to drill a well deeper.

And, as villages like Huntley and Lake in the Hills suck the aquifers dry, more and more people will be facing those charges.

When Will the Vote Be?

The April municipal and school elections.  Since only 500 signatures are needed, this is pretty much a given.

Who Will Be in Favor and Opposed?

The McHenry County Farm Bureau has endorsed the proposal.

You can bet the developers won’t.

But, taxpayers and motorists should.

Regardless of where they live in the area.

Anyone with a brain in his or her own head who has lived in McHenry County over, say, six years, should know that growth doesn’t pay its own way.

Massive new subdivisions bring the need for new schools. The new subdivisions in no way pay the full cost of the new schools and teachers and other infrastructure, such as roads.

Growth brings nothing but more traffic, lower quality of life and higher taxes. Ask anyone who has lived in McHenry County for any period of time that does not benefit financially from growth.

Who Will Run the Water Authority, If It Wins Voter Approval?

The first board will be appointed by the three county boards. Members must live in the part of the county that is in the authority.

Given the pro-development slant of the current McHenry County Board, I asked Rob Perbohner how A-LAW planned to keep the developers from taking control.

He said that, if 10% of the registered voters could be mustered on a subsequent petition, which, at the earliest could be voted upon at 2008 primary election, the board could be turned into one elected at a non-partisan election.

Who’s In and Who’s Out of the Proposed Authority?

Increasing the chances of passage is the exclusion of the major municipalities within the watershed.

Those with no vote on the matter, who live in at least some part of the Kishwaukee watershed are

McHenry County:

Crystal Lake, Harvard, Lakewood, Marengo, Wonder Lake and Woodstock, but including Bull Valley

Boone County:


DeKalb County:

DeKalb and Sycamore

And, not even all of the watershed’s unincorporated area is included.

Grafton Township, for example is not included in the proposed district, even though branches of the Kishwaukee run through Crystal Lake, Lakewood and Huntley.

Kane, Ogle and Winnebago Counties parts of the watershed are also not included.

Included McHenry County townships are Alden, Chemung, Coral, Dorr, Dunham, Greenwood, Hartland, Hebron, Marengo, Riley and Seneca.

And all of Boone and DeKalb County’s rural area is included, regardless of whether or not it is in the Kishwaukee River watershed.

Who’s Behind the Idea?

Listed as organizers of the not-for-profit organization are

J. Dale Berry, Michael Walkup, Jane L. Collins, Patricia Kennedy, Thomas W. McGrath, Robert M. Perbohner, Emily Berendt, John Kunzie, Linnea Kooistra, Rob Cisneros, and Nancy Jung.

There are others, but they are playing more behind the scenes roles.

The maps may be enlarged by clicking on them.

For more McHenry County Blog, click here.

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