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McHenry seeks purchase of private water company

Published: Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

McHENRY – The city will seek to acquire the water service for McHenry Shores, a subdivision long plagued by water quality and service complaints.

Last fall, the city began a nonbinding poll of McHenry Shores residents in which more than half of the households responded, and the vast majority of them, 285 to 30, favored dumping service by the existing McHenry Shores Water Co. and going with city water, City Administrator Derik Morefield said.

Residents of the 530-home subdivision had until Saturday to respond to the city survey.

In the summer, officials learned that T.P Mathews, owner of McHenry Shores Water, had filed for bankruptcy. The city will contact bankruptcy attorneys to negotiate an acquisition price, Morefield said.

If a deal goes through, the city would have to establish a special service area for the subdivision to pay for the purchase and upgrade the water system. Subdivision ­homeowners would pay higher property taxes to cover improvements.

Last year – before the bankruptcy filing – the city offered to buy the water system, but negotiations with Mathews stalled over the price.

That was the year a water main break in the system left residents without water for three days.

As many as 160 affected households had to buy jugs of water to wash dishes and cook. Some residents even took water from the Fox River to flush toilets.

The service disruption not only was inconvenient, but also sparked a larger dispute with Mathews and the water company. Residents said they were dissatisfied with the company’s efforts and customer service, and raised several issues about water quality.

No time frame has been set for the city to provide the subdivision’s water. “It’s really contingent upon the potential acquisition of the asset,” Morefield said.

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