By Lauren Contorno
Since its launch in 2010, What Our Water’s Worth (WOWW), a joint campaign of Openlands and the Metropolitan Planning Council, has brought readers the stories of real life water stewards from the Chicago and northwest Indiana region. These water champions, including notable individuals, community groups, businesses, and municipalities, have shown us that from Lake Michigan to the Fox River, how we use our water resources – including what we conserve, how much we waste, and what we choose to invest in water quality – is up to all of us.
Here are some highlights from the past two years of water stories as well as conservation tips that can help you emulate these best water conservation practices at your home or business.
Elgin ‘beets’ winter snow management blues
In the second month of water stories, WOWW gave to me…an eco-friendly way to “beet” icy roads!
In February 2011, we learned that although municipal de-icing agents keep our cars from sliding off the road in the winter, corrosive road salts, namely calcium chloride, can run off our streets, polluting surface water and killing vegetation. That’s why Elgin, Ill. decided to take a more sustainable approach by developing a unique blend of natural products, including beet juice, to remove ice. The switch saved the city, “about $80,000 a year,” according to David Lawry, Elgin’s general services director, plus the community reaps added benefits by reducing strain on its water treatment plant.
Conservation tip: Buy eco-salts for use at home and work. Bonus: If it’s safer for the environment, it’s also safer for your family’s and your neighbors’ pets.
Visit the WOWW water story archive to scroll through all of our past stories and see the WOWW factors of how much water and dollars are saved from best practices! If you have a friend who wants to learn more about what people in the region are doing to recognize the value of water, please pass along this story, have them visit the WOWW blog for more information, and encourage them to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.