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The Chicago area is privileged to be situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, the third largest of the Great Lakes, which altogether account for 20 percent of the world’s readily available freshwater. Lake Michigan supports a unique ecosystem, provides a breathtaking natural contrast to Chicago’s skyline and the many communities lining its shores, and offers a critical asset—freshwater—that our residents and businesses rely upon to grow and prosper.
However, the presence of this vast Lake too often lends the illusion that our water is limitless. In fact, both the water itself and the public funds required to attain, treat and deliver it are finite. Every day tens of millions of gallons of Lake Michigan water are lost due to leaks, faulty meters or accounting errors, never producing any revenue. Water also goes to waste through inefficient plumbing and excessive outdoor use. Both lost water—which costs money to produce—and wasted water—which was paid for but used unproductively—are a financial burden. Fortunately, the factors that lead to loss and waste are controllable, and the problem is solvable.