Paul M. Neal 

Where It All Began

The Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency (CLCJAWA) is composed of 15 members serving 20 communities in Lake County, Illinois. Before the formation of CLCJAWA, these communities obtained drinking water from groundwater aquifers or purchased treated Lake Michigan water from other communities.  Faced with diminishing quantity and quality of groundwater as well as rising costs of lake water, the communities first met in 1981 and eventually joined together in 1986 to organize CLCJAWA.  Under the leadership of Paul M. Neal, then the mayor of Libertyville, the group explored all potential water supply options for their communities.

The final decision was unanimous.  The group determined that the most cost-effective method of providing a safe and reliable source of water for its residents was the ownership of a water treatment and supply system using Lake Michigan water as the source.   By joining together, they formed a unique intergovernmental cooperative that could own and operate a completely independent water system, freeing the member communities of the need to either purchase water from neighboring communities or to rely on dwindling groundwater supplies.

More importantly, the arrangement would allow them to control their own destinies by managing the pricing, quality, and availability of their water supply openly and independently.   Following final design and a 29-month construction schedule, the Agency's Lake Michigan water supply system became operational in March of 1992.