Water and the Oakwood Hills Power Plant

A friend of McHenry County Blog has been researching various aspects of the Oakwood Hills power plant.  This is the first of several analyses that will be published.

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In reference to potential waste water usage, the term ‘grey water’ should be replaced by the term ‘ treated effluent’ throughout article. Thanks to astute readers for correction comments.

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WATER USAGE by 430 Megawatt Power generation facility proposed in Oakwood Hills

If Oakwood Hills grants a zoning variance to Enventure Partners for purpose of building a power plant, the  impact will be felt far beyond the above-ground borders of that tiny municipality.

Illinois law allows water-mining rights according to the ‘reasonable-use doctrine’, and reasonable use for a 430 megawatt combined cycle natural gas fired electrical generation plant range from 200-1100 gallons per megawatt hour.

At the low end of the range, if the plant runs 24 hours a day, the plant must use:

200 (gallons/megawatt per hour) x 24 (hours) x 430 (megawatts) = 2,064,000 gallons (per 24h day).

At the high end of the range: 1100 x 24 x 4 30=11,352,000 gallons (per 24h day).

So the power plant will have the capacity to use 2-11 mgd; by comparison, all of Crystal Lake uses 4.9 mgd.

Enventure Partners stated their intention at the July 22 ‘open house’ to the public, which took place 2 days before a scheduled zoning board of appeals hearing to vote on Enventure’s conditional use permit or zoning variance petition.

Quote on an Enventure poster:  ” Utilize as much treated effluent from local wastewater treatment plants (WWTP’s) as is economically feasible to conserve well water from deep  aquifers with the goal of reducing well water requirements to a negligible amount”   (emphasis added to “as is economically feasible”).

Another poster made clear they intend to start running the power plant using well water drawn from the local deep aquifer which contains drinking-quality water.

CL Sewage Treatment Plant NE Tower + Tall Tank

Crystal Lake’s nearest sewage treatment plant.

If ‘grey water’ from municipal waste treatment plants is to be used by this privately owned power plant, the following questions must be answered:

  • Who will pay for the infrastructure to pipe water to and from the doorstep of this privately owned business?
  • How will easements to dig up and install pipelines through citizen’s property be obtained?
  • Who will be responsible for the costs of maintenance and repairs to this infrastructure built for the  sole purpose of servicing the power plant?
  • What about additional personnel and compliance costs at municipal wastewater treatment facilities which would supply the plant, would that also be a taxpayer expense?
  • What legal mechanism would enforce the use of ‘greywater’ rather than groundwater by this privately owned facility, if groundwater (well water) is more economical (profitable) for them to use?
  • What diminution of surface and groundwater recharge will result from grey water discharge by WWTP’s being lost?
  • Who will be liable for damage to groundwater supply if ground water used for drinking is contaminated due to leakage of pipes carrying water from WWTP’s to the power plant’s doorstep?

Oakwood Hills cannot presume that the citizens of neighboring towns and McHenry County will be willing to assume the costs and risks of supplying ‘treated effluent’ to a private business’s doorstep.

Oakwood Hills must analyze this conditional use permit petition under the assumption that the power plant will be drawing the maximum amount of groundwater allowed by law, and that amount is in a range which may exceed the entire water consumption of Crystal Lake, daily.

Wellhead ‘interference’, cones of depression caused by large scale water pumping, may affect Crystal Lake water supply drawn from Ironton-Galesville aquifer.

Homeowners on private wells throughout McHenry County may be affected by Enventure Partners water mining, as a function of hydraulic conductivity and transmissivity toward a pumping well.

Analysis of complex issues surrounding high volume water pumping of groundwater (2-11 mgd), consideration of how many years it takes to ‘recharge’ a deep aquifer, or economic comparison studies on the value of water use to be permitted versus the market value of such an asset do not seem to have been performed by Oakwood Hills decision makers.

Oakwood Hills has so far only allowed receipt of information presented by petitioners for consideration, and this information is selectively chosen to support petitioner’s case.

For example, petitioners failed to mention that massive water use does not have to occur in a nat-gas fired power plant.

Dry cooling technology is available which uses virtually no water, but it costs more to install, and reduces operating profit margins by 5%-10%.

Why would McHenry County want to give away, for zero remuneration, a valuable commodity such as water, which in other parts of the country is a saleable commodity?

McHenry County is landlocked and entirely dependent on groundwater to sustain life.

Enventure Partners is seeking a zoning variance which would effectively grant this single privately owned business water-mining rights to a significant percentage of the deep aquifer water reserve which is the only feasible fallback source of survival for citizens throughout the County.

Water is a valuable resource presumably owned in common by all landowners in McHenry County;  the conscription/giveaway of this communally owned precious asset by a tiny landmass called Oakwood Hills is of grave concern to homeowners beyond its borders.

Oakwood Hills officials must not rule on the zoning variance petition without performing due diligence on threats to our water supply, or the municipality and County will inherit enormous liability for consequences of foreseeable circumstances they promote.

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(Industry standard water use assumptions)


(Crystal Lake drinking water usage)


(Water usage in 2011 legal opinion article)


(“Study Shows McHenry County Water Supplies May Not Suffice in Future” Scott Meyer, January 7,2014)


(more info from source cited above)

Studies have been conducted by McHenry County and Isws .Illinois.edu which should be examined and interpreted by objective water engineering experts, and results conveyed to decision-making boards.



(Dry cooling systems, zero liquid discharge)

If the reader Googles  this search term: “siting gas fired power plants”, an article of that title written by Enventure Partners Director Conrad Anderson will be near the top. ***

(Liability to municipalities and counties is highlighted by case of a private property insurance company suing to recover damages for ‘foreseeable circumstances’ created by county or municipal negligence)



Water and the Oakwood Hills Power Plant — 35 Comments

  1. What a informative and great article .

    Many points that seemed to be overlooked by the power company and Oakwood Hills are brought up in this article..

    Thanks for your reporting on this matter.

  2. Hats off to the Island Lake board for publicly opposing this project.

    All the other towns, villages or cities in the area need to put pressure on Oakwood Hills to stop this project or be prepared to go to court over water rights.

    This effects everybody in the general area. Great research and a great article.

    I still say something smells FUNKY!

    Stop the FUNK and the rest of HER board.

  3. “Another poster made clear they intend to start running the power plant using well water drawn from the local deep aquifer which contains drinking-quality water.”

    I was under the impression that the deep aquifer is undrinkable because of radon, and that the shallow aquifer is the only source of drinking water. Am I mistaken?

  4. Excellent explanation.

    The thought of a private business using more water than all of Crystal Lake should alarm us all.

    One Oakwood Hills trustee is not interested in hearing from residents outside Oakwood Hills.

    This eloquently explains how this affects us all

  5. I live in Oakwood Hills but this effects every surrounding village, town or city .

    They should have some say in this huge mistake.

    Hats off to Island Lake for publicly opposing this project.

    Great research and article.

    Something sure smells FUNKY!!

    Time to remove Her and her FUNKETTES!

  6. If Crystal Lake and Cary recognize the deception, we may be able to stop this from moving forward.

    We need Crystal Lake and Cary Representatives to step up and oppose this absurd proposal for their communities that will also be affected.

    To the Mayor and boards involved, don’t give them your “Greywater” to aide in their plan to actually take the majority of water from the local deep aquifer.

  7. Cal, thank you for posting this well researched article.

    Thanks to the author for catching the point made that the power plant plans to BEGIN using deep water wells for all the water they will need and then go to grey water (if possible). And for also pointing out that they plan to use as much grey water as ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE…I can only imagine that piping and pumping all that grey water from 3 different source locations is going to be very very costly… and would anyone be surprised if they didn’t do it at all once they dug the wells? Nothing holds them to the use of recycled grey water at all

    I have a question, perhaps you can help….I had seen the posters displayed at the presentation by the power plant partners and the one I recall had deep water WELLS (plural) I seem to recall that they were asking to drill two deep water wells. So the next logical question….Why would they need two wells IF the well water was only for back up use?

    This is indeed an issue for all of McHenry County. To quote an elected official I spoke with at the present….”This is manufacturing FOR export using our most precious and limited resources.”

    All of McHenry county residents need to be very alarmed, whether you are on well or city water. This effects EVERYONE.

    To Mark McGuire, the deep water aquifer is what the municipalities tap into for their municipal water supplies…they treat water for it to become drinkable. Reduced supply for municipalities or increased costs to tap into the supply will make water bills become much more expensive.

  8. Thanks for posting this informative post.

    It is clear to me that this power plant has no intention of using grey water, they only say that to sell the plant to the uninformed.

  9. There were no threats on officials……according to the front page of the northwest herald

  10. If there were no threats then the people who filed a false report should be prosecuted and this should also be brought to the attention of the media who covered the story.

    If the threat was on a building then instead of closing down they can move to another location.

  11. There were no threats and they knew it, we all knew it.

    They are working in secret again.

    They don’t want to answer questions

  12. You are right and they should held accountable for their false claim!!

  13. At the 24th meeting, Mrs. Funk was heard saying to the person sitting next to her to, “Shut the F*^$ up, or else”!

    I consider this a threat.

    I wonder where that person is?

    He could make a complaint against her, don’t you think?

  14. At the July 24th meeting, Mrs. Funk was sitting in the audience and was heard saying to the person sitting next to her, “To shut the F@$& Up, or else!”

    I consider this a threat.

    I wonder if this person she verbally abused called her out on this and she quickly turned it around with a public lie as the board and herself were then the victims….to cover her butt against a complaint.

  15. I need to address 3 points regarding this proposed project.

    1. The correct term for the discharge from sewage treatment plants is “effluent” as was used by the Eventure poster. The term “Grey Water” keeps being used incorrectly. Grey water is the water from household sinks and bath tubs or showers. Only that. I don’t know of any place in our entire country where the grey water is kept separate and collected separately from total sewage. It would be a huge expense and is not done. So when I see the term grey water used, I have the strong feeling that someone is playing games with the truth. So please stop people from using the term Grey Water. It is NOT what they are proposing here.

    Sewage can be treated, even to the point of it being potable (drinkable) water, however that comes at great cost and most surely would not be used in this case.

    2. The point made about the enormous cost to purchase easements and lay pipeline from the various sewage treatment plants and this proposed facility is exactly correct. I can’t imagine it happening.

    3. Regarding contaminants in the deep aquifer water. I would guess that the contaminant was probably barium (which was found in Well No. 8 in Crystal Lake). I don’t know if treatment would be required for a business application such as this. When it is to be used as drinking water it may be treated to remove at least part of the contaminant, in addition dilution is a major factor in bring it into compliance with standards required for safe drinking water. That dilution comes from using water drawn from the shallow wells and adding it to the contaminated water drawn from the deep aquifer. This, of course, can cause a draw down of the shallow aquifer and affect home owners shallow aquifer wells.
    Note this report: http://mtac.sws.uiuc.edu/mtacdocs/pubs/MTACTR08-01.pdf

    By the way, the municipalities use both deep and shallow aquifer wells.

  16. “Nancy” Melanie Funks should be arrested for disorderly conduct.

    File a complaint with the States Attorneys office.

    As for those that filed false police reports, that is a felony and they should also be arrested and prosecuted.

    That is exactly what they did to Bianchi and others.

    The Regime brought false allegations and false prosecutions, when they were the ones that were actually committing the crimes…

    That is exactly what abusive, corrupt people do, they point their finger at everyone else when they are in fact guilty.

    Melanie Funk needs to go!

  17. We were just in Oakwood Hills and many houses have signs.

    Very impressive!

    The more the better.

    It will take the community to win this.

  18. The petitioners claim to use effluent (confused with gray water) is a red herring.

    The costs and liability to build the infrastructure are just too great.

    This private company is only interested in fleecing our community and maximizing their profit margins at our expense.

    I don’t want to be host to this parasite.

    Not now, not ever.

  19. I’m a lake killarney (Cary) homeowner, and have read a large number of articles and comments that have made me feel like this is not supposed to be a battle for anybody BUT Oakwood hills.

    Although I don’t agree with that, I’m confident that Cary and crystal lake residents are feeling as if we don’t matter anymore.

    Just a word of caution to those opposed to the power plant, that because of such comments, it’s important to continue to unite with surrounding towns, and let it be known that those for the power plant, want it to be Oakwood hills verses the power plant, because a small town will not win this battle alone.

    They’ve already started attempting division.

  20. To Nancy and Duncan

    I happen to be sitting two rows behind Mrs. Funk and it was actually the lady in a red shirt sitting two chairs away from her that was fighting with another red shirt behind her and yelled that.

    I have known Melanie for years and she has never and would never say anything like that to anyone.

    She is actually one of the nicest and sincere people I know and works very hard for your village.

    I know a lot of nasty things have been said about her and she is trying to ignore them, but I know it hurts her badly since she is very nice.

    I think you people should all be ashamed of yourselves.

  21. She knew the project had been in place for years and the tax payers were only recently notified. I don’t think deception is nice!

  22. Duncan. Apparently you can’t hear or can’t read or choose not to.

    She only came into office in May of 2013.

    And she has stated she was approached late in May or early June by the developer.

    Two years prior to that she was on the board and the meeting minutes are posted and available for FOIA.

    The board never discussed it.

    No wonder she is upset that she has to deal with so much ignorance.

    What do you know about that village. You live in McHenry

  23. Duncan. I also find it interesting that you choose not to apologize for your comment but turned it into another accusation.

  24. I am curious of how many people go to the meetings?

    I am sure this had to be talked about in the board meetings?

    Especially when the hosting agreement was voted on by the board.

  25. To Stella:

    I appreciate that you are defending your friend due to my comment.

    I did not write it to cause harm or disconnect, I shared it because Mrs. Funk and the village lied about the false threats placed on them.

    I was pointing out that Mrs. Funk had said supposedly said something which also could be considered a threat to another person.

    Would she not be guilty of the same thing that they have lied about?

    With that said, this “rumor” will continue to be “she said, she said” and it will be continued to be believed because of the actions on her part in regard to the proposed plant.

    She made a promise to the Oakwood Hills citizens to be truthful and upstanding.

    She has, sadly, consciously failed at this.

    She knew about this proposed plant when she sat on the board back in 2010 /2011.

    This is when the village was first approached.

    This has been in talks, behind closed doors, for years.

    She knew all about this before and after she took office..there is a paper trail outside of village meetings.

    She cannot plead innocent.

    So, back to my original comment, it is not too farfetched to believe it because of what her actions thus far have proven…she has been acting in a scheming and dishonorable manner.

    As if those actions are not bad enough it also believed that Mrs. Funk is one who fibs.

    At least where this proposed plant issue is concerned.

    Mrs. Funk has also made it clear she could care less about the good for the people.

    She is a true politician.

    Mrs. Funk might very well be a nice person (at Christmas parties), but for what she is putting Oakwood Hills and the surrounding communities through makes 90% of the people think differently.

    She and the whole village board has brought this animosity on themselves.

    The rumors are going to fly.

    Had they been open and honest years ago, we would not be having this conversation.

    I have nothing to be ashamed of, nor will I apologize for anything I have written or said.

    The shame does not lay with me, it lays with Mrs. Funk and the Oakwood Hills board.

  26. To Stella,

    Get serious!!!

    Five board members all voted unanimously for the host agreement in May.

    FUNK and every Trustee except Chad Rider (who was absent).

    They were all on board at the time.

    Any one of them thinking they had the knowledge base to make that type of decision is absurd.

    By keeping it a “secret” that’s what they did.

    They limited the information to what the Northland and Enventure representatives wanted to tell them and what they chose to research on their own, which must not have been much.

    There is documentation to show that she LIED to the Tribune (fact), a homeowners association (fact) and individuals (fact) when directly asked about this topic.


    She lied about threats.


    She is responsible through her actions for helping to create chaos in this community.


    Your definition of “nice” needs work.

  27. While I’m not a big fan of Funk – the Personal attacks on her are not helpful to the “cause”. while this is a passionate subject everybody needs to keep cool heads.

    Besides the water usage, property values dropping, concerns over how close it would be to homes and schools I am concerned of the regret even the people who are for it now would have in a few years.

    Look at how the city of Chicago is regretting the deal they made on the parking meters – seemed lucrative at the time but in hindsight it was a terrible idea.

    I also worry about what making changes to building codes and variances means for future businesses that may want to build in our area.

    Making changes for one company could open a Pandora’s box.

    Keep up the good work all but be calm and don’t attack people Personally – they are screwing up plenty professionally – closing the village hall due to unsubstantiated threats was a huge blunder.

  28. Wow!

    She went on the board 2011 and you can talk to the board and look at the minutes.

    It was not brought to the board for any discussions.

    As to the previous president no idea.

    A hosting agreement was passed in open meeting.

    From my understanding as I looked up what those are it protects a village as projects of this size proceed.

    I have read in the papers and on the village website that they have to by law let them have a type of trial before the zoning and village board.

    I guess you guys would rather see your village sued and have to spend money they don’t have.

    I also heard on the radio the police chief and read in the paper that there were threats and
    That people were afraid to go to work or meetings.

    Since the village is worried about being sued about the plant I find it hard to believe the police chief would lie and expose the village to more issues or being sued.

  29. According to Stella, it sounds as though we never had anything to worry about.

    The secrecy, lies in response to inquiries and the yes votes were all legal obligation.

    We can all calm down now.

    I feel so much better that no one ever gave Enventure and Northland any positive feedback and assured them this would never fly in our community.

    Northland and Enventure surely do like wasting their time and money.

    Several years of it.

    If you believe that nonsense, then you’re probably waiting for Santa who will be coming in a few months.

    I agree we all need to keep our eye on the ball.

    But this feel sorry for me I’m really a victim isn’t going to fly.

    Too little, too late!!

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