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Aqua Illinois buys McHenry Shores water system

Published: Friday, May 16, 2014 4:59 p.m. CDT

McHENRY – The McHenry Shores water system has a new owner.

Aqua Illinois purchased the assets of the McHenry Shores Water Company for $427,000 through the bankruptcy proceedings of its owner, T.P. Mathews, and his wife, Lois Mathews.

The Illinois Commerce Commission approved the terms of the purchase as well as Aqua Illinois' request that McHenry Shores residents pay the same rates as its other 56,000 customers, who are located in Cook, Kane, lake and Boone counties.

No objections were filed in the 30-day window, spokeswoman Beth Bosch said.

The approval means that the consumers will see its bill climb from $14.70 to $44.30 on average, an increase "necessitated by the additional investment necessary to continue to operate the system properly," the commission said in its final decision.

Typically, a water company goes through a separate rate case analysis in asking for a rate increase, Illinois Commerce Commission rate analyst Christopher Boggs said in his prepared testimony for the case.

But Boggs recommended the increase anyways, saying that "the need for McHenry Shores to be acquired by a capable utility appears to be dire and immediate."

Aqua Illinois plans on investing $1.3 million into the system over the next five years, replacing water mains, valves, service lines and fire hydrants; repairing the water tower; and constructing an iron removal plant to improve water quality. It also proposed upgrading water meters and improving security.

Many McHenry Shores residents have been advocating for the city of McHenry to take over the water system, which residents have said sometimes has yellow water that ruins clothing and appliances.

A water main break in 2011 left residents without water for three days.

When the city sent a survey out to residents to gauge interest in a municipal purchase of the water system, 285 of the 535 households that received the survey responded positively. Another 30 responded negatively.

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