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McHenry Shores aim is to shed private water

McHENRY – Sue Kilroy and Kevin Burchfield hope their neighbors in McHenry Shores subdivision will join them in demanding that McHenry take over the water service.

The service “is getting worse and worse every year,” Kilroy said. The water rusts, she said, “and if you let it sit, the bottom forms a jelly-like substance with an orangelike color.”

The city, which has held negotiations to take over water service in the past, may be considering the option again.

“The city can move forward only if the residents are willing to pay for it,” said Alderman Andy Glab, who recalls the issue being debated in the early 1990s.

About a month ago, it polled the 530-home subdivision about whether it would approve a switch from the existing McHenry Shores Water Co.

The subdivision has until Jan. 5 to respond to the city’s survey, which is nonbinding.

The city seeks to gauge the neighborhood’s support before moving forward with negotiations, said Derik Morefield, city administrator.

Last 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, it sparked a larger dispute with Mathews. Residents were dissatisfied with the company’s efforts and customer service, and they raised several issues about water quality.

Earlier this year officials learned that Mathews, the water system owner, had filed for bankruptcy. Last year, the city offered to buy the water system, but negotiations with Mathews stalled over the price.

Now, any negotiations would go through the bankruptcy process, not with Mathews, officials said. Mathews, officials said.

Mathews declined to comment, requesting more time to respond.

If a sale goes through, the city would have to establish a special service area for the subdivision to pay for the purchase and upgrade the system. That means residents would pay higher property taxes to cover the improvements.

Burchfield said households may oppose a city takeover because of the price. But he said he sees the switch as saving costs on items such as bottled water and sump pumps, and putting an end to ongoing frustrations.

“I have to drink bottled water,” said Burchfield, who bought his home nine years ago. “I just don’t like [McHenry Shores Water Co.’s] water.”

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