The Twelve Months of Water Stories

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.

Programs in Chicago and the suburbs help property owners save water, energy, money and the environment

Picture 10 of 12

In the tenth month of water stories, WOWW gave to me…sustainable backyards!

In June 2012, we informed readers of Chicago’s Sustainable Backyards Program, which provides residents with knowledge and incentives to help them create more environmentally friendly landscapes in their own yards, including free educational workshops and a rebate program that offers up to 50 percent off local purchases of specific trees, native plants, rain barrels, and compost bins. Sarah Surroz, manager of Conservation@Home, a similar program in the Chicago suburbs, says, “This program makes it easier for folks to get specific tips so they can select projects that work for their own lifestyles, budgets and properties.” Educating property owners about the importance of stormwater management and its re-uses is critical to address local flooding and to conserve resources.

Conservation Tip: Use it or lose it. A few days after it rains, be sure to use the water in your barrel so it will be empty the next time it rains. A barrel with no available storage capacity is no help to anyone.


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.

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5 Responses to The Twelve Months of Water Stories

  1. paul poy says:

    thanks for the reminder through past stories and how we can adapt and practically implement to support water management for the future

  2. JJ says:

    Go Blue Island!

  3. Kevin Mercer says:

    There is no such substance on earth called eco-salts. NONE.

    The is false misinformation. All four chloride salts – calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium – were classified by the federal priority substances list of Environment Canada as major ecosystem toxic substances. Contrary to the salt industry’s propaganda, there is no such thing as ecosystem safe salt and all salt use is ecosystem accumulative and a ticking time bomb of poison building up in the ground or surface water table that cannot be removed or treated by any means other than distillation.

    The use of beet juice extracts on sodium chloride is only useful in as much as it reduces road bounce-off of rock salt spread by trucks and holds it to the road surface longer than untreated salt. However, the only reduction this offers is to the amount of salt which stays on the road after its application. In no way does beet juice additive reduce salt use per se.

    Salt use must be entirely replaced by NON-CHLORIDE anti-icing substances such as calcium magnesium acetate or sodium formate (DO NOT use urea – it is fertilizer), in addition to traction additives such as ecoTraction (DO NOT use sand – highly damaging to sewers and water courses).

    Kevin Mercer
    Managing Director, RiverSides Foundation
    Environmental Sector Delegate
    National Road Salts Risk Reduction Working Group
    Environment Canada

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