Water Authority Alternative

Think that the Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority is our last best chance to protect our local water supply? Wrong-o. In July 2006, the Illinois General Assembly changed Public Act 094-1007. Here is a snippet of the Act, straight from the General Assembly website and including the changes that took effect in January:

Section 5. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Act is amended by changing Section 3.1 as follows:

(5 ILCS 220/3.1) (from Ch. 127, par. 743.1)
Sec. 3.1. Municipal Joint Action Water Agency.
(a) Any municipality or municipalities of this State, any county or counties of this State, any township in a county with a population under 700,000 of this State, any public water district or districts of this State, State university, or any combination thereof may, by intergovernmental agreement, establish a Municipal Joint Action Water Agency to provide adequate supplies of water on an economical and efficient basis for member municipalities, public water districts and other incorporated and unincorporated areas within such counties. For purposes of this Act, the water supply may only be derived from Lake Michigan, the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, or the Sangamon River Valley Alluvium. Any such Agency shall itself be a municipal corporation, public body politic and corporate. A Municipal Joint Action Water Agency so created shall not itself have taxing power except as hereinafter provided.

The language that limited application of the Act to users of Lake Michigan and certain rivers has been struck. Furthermore, an MJAWA obtains financing only through revenue bonds or notes unless voters pass a referendum to allow for the issuance of general obligation bonds.

Let’s see:

  • Management of water supply. Check.
  • No new government. Check.
  • No new taxes. Check.
  • For a discussion of water supply management alternatives, please go here.

    I will update with links to joint action water agency websites as I find them.

    Thanks to Kay Shelton for the tip.

    6 thoughts on “Water Authority Alternative”

    1. Will this joint action water agency monitor and protect the levels sustainable in the aquifers? No. There is nothing in this act that does that. This act only creates a big municipal water company by permitting municipalities to join together and acquire existing private water companies by eminent domain and then hire their own personnel to staff them. Ms. Shelton says the act would permit municipalities to sue if there was a problem. Sue whom? The other municipalities or members?
      This water agency buys and sells your water. It does not make sure there is enough to go around. Only a water authority does that.
      Regarding the bonding power: The agency would be able to bring referendums for general oblgation bonds, just like any other government agency. Don’t be fooled into thinking they wouldn’t do that. And please don’t rely on a joint action water agency to solve the problem of a sustainable water supply. It is not their job.

    2. Emily Berendt, I understand the limitations of this act. I see it as a starting point, a vehicle for bringing together fragmented government entities to focus on one thing. It also has way fewer downsides than the Water Authorities Act, which I’ve almost exhaustively listed in previous articles.

      And surely the timing of the amendment after the governor’s executive order regarding water supply planning initiatives is not coincidental. I’ve heard that the Regional Water Supply Planning Groups (CMAP- & MAC-commissioned groups) might form joint action water agencies themselves. If this is so, & if A-LAW knows about it, I’d be inclined to believe that this is nothing more than a pre-emptive power grab by a small McHenry group. The whole deal certainly stinks to high heaven.

      And regarding bonding power, perhaps you’d better read what I wrote again since you missed the part about having to bring a referendum, which in my book is a much more accountable action than to have automatic taxing powers.

      As for who might sue whom, I see the water authority as a big fat bunch of opportunities for litigators because the law is being applied wrong.

    3. I am not sure what a joint agency under this act does other than seek water for shortages. It does nothing to prevent the shortages before they occur. It provides only a portion of the powers of the water authority and can not provide protection no hold harmless those who are harmed by new high capacity wells.

    4. R.P., that’s what the joint agency has been used for, since mostly it’s been applied to surface water applications, but “to provide adequate supplies of water” seems general enough that that is not ALL it is set up to do, or could do. Having only a portion of the powers of a water authority, to me, is a selling point. Neither of these acts is a perfect fit, but I’d rather start with the one that has the lesser powers since the GA seems amenable to– er–amending the act for other purposes. Also, it’s much easier to dissolve such an agency. Lastly, I’d like to see what RWSPG comes up with.

    5. Interesting BLOG, well written and informative, but nowhere can I find WHO “I” is. Who is the author?? Everyone else’s name is attached to what they write.

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