Governor recognizes Illinois’ "Troubled Waters" - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Governor recognizes Illinois’ "Troubled Waters"

Executive order follows recommendations of new Campaign for Sensible Growth report that demonstrates the need for statewide leadership for regional water supply planning to prevent a water crisis in Illinois.

Making sure the tap will run and water supplies are clean are basic needs for the residents and businesses of Illinois. Today, close to 18 billion gallons of water are used across the state for domestic, municipal, commercial, agricultural, industrial, and mining purposes; power generation; recreation; navigation; and waste dilution. Although Lake Michigan currently supplies water to a large area, including the city of Chicago and the inner suburbs of DuPage, Lake and Will counties, as development moves farther west, to fast-growing areas in northeastern Illinois and throughout the state, additional supply from groundwater and surface water will be needed for drinking water and other uses.

A new report released on Monday, Troubled Waters: Meeting Future Water needs in Illinois , was prepared by the Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands in conjunction with the Campaign for Sensible Growth. The report explores the issues behind a projected shortage in water supply and recommends new steps for the planning and management of water resources so critical to ensuring the future supply of clean water at a reasonable cost. To ensure that Illinois maintains a sustainable water supply, Troubled Waters recommends a statewide framework for regional water supply planning and management to meet the needs of a growing population.

Also on Monday, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich issued an executive order recognizing the concerns addressed in the report.

The report was released at a Campaign for Sensible Growth membership meeting where State Sen. Susan Garrett and Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay spoke of the need for planning. Bill Mullican, deputy director of the Texas Water Development Board, discussed the long-running Texas model for statewide supply management and answered questions about how regional planning has been successful in Texas. The group traveled to Peoria on Jan. 10 to present the research and Texas model to a group of interested public officials from the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium and other county and statewide governments and organizations.

Historically, groundwater and surface water have been managed separately. A better scientific understanding of their interconnectedness is needed to plan and manage the state’s resources. Currently there are no comprehensive statewide or regional plans nor do any entities exist for managing water supply at the regional level. Because aquifers and watersheds are regional in nature, cutting across political boundaries, water quantity planning must occur at the regional level.

According to the report, the region’s top water quality and quantity challenges – projected to intensify with increased growth pressure – include:

  • Supply shortages, as demand for water in some parts of the region is increasing faster than underground water reserves can recharge or refill;
  • Inadequate information and analytical tools regarding both shallow and deep aquifers; and,
  • More geologic information is needed.

As a result, in addition to establishing a statewide framework, Troubled Waters recommends several actions to ensure that Illinois’ water supply will meet mounting societal demands, as well as those of aquatic ecosystems, including:

  • Carry out a statewide coordinated ground and surface water inventory, resource assessment, and modeling program, to establish a scientific basis for managing the state’s water resources;
  • Develop a statewide framework for regional water supply planning and management;
  • Evaluate the water demand aspects of land use plans;
    Include water quantity/supply objectives and strategies in watershed plans;
  • Implement local recharge area protection programs;
  • Develop guidelines for local water conservation practices; and
  • Encourage alternative wastewater treatment systems that replenish the groundwater.

Click here to download the report.

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