Five towns refile water system lawsuit
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org June 13, 2014 6:42PM
Updated: July 16, 2014 6:25AM
The communities that are seeking to take over American Lake Water pipelines have refiled their eminent domain lawsuit, after it was withdrawn this spring to address a legal technicalty.
Homer Glen, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Lemont and Woodridge continue their efforts to take over the privately owned pipeline that runs from Bedford Park, believing they can stabilize their water rates.
The lawsuit, initially filed in January 2013, listed only the Northern Will County Water Agency as the plaintiff and American Lake Water as the defendant.
That suit was withdrawn, and a new one filed last Monday in Will County — listing the water agency and its five towns as plaintiffs and adding as defendants Illinois American Water, a company subsidiary that operates the local water systems, and many railroads and property owners along the pipeline, according to court records.
Each municipality and the water agency board had to pass a resolution to pursue eminent domain, a legal power that gives a government the ability to seize land for the public good.
American Lake Water was “looking for a technicality, and now it’s been fixed” by adding plaintiffs and defendants, Homer Glen Mayor Jim Daley said.
Water agency members also took issue with a colored brochure that Illinois American Water distributed to every doorstep in Homer Glen over the weekend, criticizing the agency’s lack of transparency.
“They are twisting the facts. It’s ridiculous,” Daley said. “This propaganda was paid for with revenues from residents with exorbitant water rates. We are not changing our minds.”
In response to the revised lawsuit, Michael Smyth, spokesman for American Lake Water, said the company remains opposed to the towns trying to take over the water pipeline via eminent domain.
“The lawsuit will ultimately cost our customers tens of millions, if not over $100 million,” if the water agency succeeds “in this hostile takeover,” Smyth said in a statement. “How can elected officials continually fail to inform their respective taxpayers on how taking over the pipeline will not lower their water supply costs?”
It’s time for the Northern Will County Water Agency to present a plan without spending more tax dollars, he said.