We haven't had a lot of rain in the past few weeks, but that didn't stop almost 400 people from coming out to our three public workshops on the Ill. Environmental Protection Agency's (IEPA) new Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program for Stormwater Management(IGIG). The grant program will advance the use of innovative green infrastructure solutions for stormwater management and water quality enhancement. The Request for Proposals is available online, and if you didn't get the chance to come out to Chicago, Aurora or East Hazel Crest, here's IEPA's presentation.
There were a handful of frequently asked questions not explicitly addressed in IEPA's presentation.
- Can I use this grant in coordination with other state and federal funds, in particular Section 319 funding for nonpoint source pollution control? Yes, absolutely. IEPA wants the IGIG funding to facilitate coordinated planning and to leverage other sources of investment.
- Is the focus on flooding control or water quality improvements? IEPA has a historic interest in protecting water quality. For the foreseeable future, this program will prioritize projects that have measurable benefits for water quality in impaired waterways. That means the project in question has to be in a community with a combined sewer system (CSO), or a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4). Additionally, the water body you're trying to protect has to be on the list of impaired waterways, otherwise known as the 303(d) list.
- How do I know if my community is a CSO or MS4? The easiest way to determine whether your community had a combined sewer would be to call your local public works office. IEPA has info on MS4s on its web site.
- How do I know if my project area discharges to an impaired waterway? Check on your local streams and rivers here, and ponds and lakes here.
- One of the criteria IEPA will be considering is whether the proposal is consistent with a regional water supply plan. What's a regional water supply plan? Through the work of Ill. Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR), Illinois has two completed regional water supply plans, one here in northeastern Illinois, and one focusing on the Mahomet Aquifer of east central Illinois. A third planning group has been established in the Kaskaskia Basin. If your project is one of those areas, you should check to see if you can implement plan recommendations. If your community isn't covered by a regional plan, let IDNR know that you think regional water supply planning is important.
- One of the eligible project types is rainwater harvesting, but that's not in the state plumbing code. What's up with that? This fall MPC and several of its partners will try to shepherd SB2549 through the veto session. If successful, that will lead to revisions in the state plumbing code enabling property owners to harvest rain for indoor, non-potable uses like flushing toilets. After all, there's really no good reason to flush some of the world's highest quality drinking water down the drain. We'll need your support for that, so stay tuned.
Some good news and some bad news. The good news (from the perspective of the grant applicant) is that Illinois has lots of CSOs, MS4s and impaired waterways. Chances are, your community is probably eligible. The bad news (from the perspective of aquatic flora and fauna, as well as our own health) is that Illinois has lots of CSOs, MS4s and impaired waterways. Chances are, your community is probably suffering from stormwater runoff, flooding and impaired water quality in some way. So apply for IGIG!
If you're looking for ideas on projects that might work in your community, check out some work already being done in the region:
The deadline for IGIG applications is 5 p.m., Dec. 15. Don't be late! For any questions about IGIG, contact IEPA's Amy Walkenbach at (217) 782-3362.