Metropolitan Planning Council, Openlands commend newly approved regional water supply plan - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Metropolitan Planning Council, Openlands commend newly approved regional water supply plan

Groups ready to support the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Group as it begins to implement plan in March

(Chicago) … The Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands, two vocal and thoughtful advocates for regional water supply planning and water conservation statewide, commend the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Group for approving the region’s first stakeholder-driven water supply plan, at a meeting today in Chicago.

“We applaud everyone involved in the plan and are eager to support the implementation phase beginning in March,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett. “The plan will help the region make better and more cost-effective choices about how we use our current water supply, and it reflects many of the recommendations MPC and Openlands outlined in our November 2009 report Before the Wells Run Dry.”

“The population of northeastern Illinois is expected to grow by 3.3 million people in the next 40 years, but our water supplies – Lake Michigan, groundwater, and rivers – will remain the same,” said Openlands President Gerald Adelmann. “This regional plan, developed with input from key stakeholders, is insurance that the entire region will have enough clean water now and in the future.”

The regional water supply planning group consists of 35 members representing 11 counties (Boone, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will), municipalities, water suppliers, and stakeholders representing agriculture, industry, power, wastewater treatment, conservation, environment, academia, and real estate. The group, coordinated by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and funded by the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources, began meeting monthly in January 2007. 

“The region’s economic competitiveness, social equity, and environmental sustainability all hinge on sufficient clean water for all users.  We’re very encouraged to see those goals explicitly stated on the first page of the plan,” said Barrett.

The plan also includes guidance for businesses and residents to reduce consumption and waste, as well as hundreds of recommendations to improve how public and private water suppliers manage water.

“With the first phase under our belt, we look forward to subsequent rounds of planning, the creation of regional water supply planning groups in other critical areas of Illinois, and working with the state to reward municipalities that implement these recommendations,” said Adelmann. 

Download the plan. 

MPC and Openlands particularly commend the northeastern Illinois plan for recommending the following strategies:

  • Exploring innovative ways to expand water supplies, such as rainwater harvesting and efficiency upgrades to avoid water loss.
  • Encouraging municipal collaboration to protect and manage shared water sources, including aquifers, watersheds and river basins.
  • Metering water use and moving toward full-cost pricing that would encourage individual conservation and provide needed revenue for water treatment and delivery, reducing the need for public subsidies.
  • Creating “conservation coordinators” at the municipal and regional levels, who would work with public water suppliers’ staff to analyze the benefits, costs, and water savings potential of conservation measures.
  • Developing a public campaign to inform adults and schoolchildren of the need for water conservation. 

MPC and Openlands’ November 2009 report Before the Wells Run Dry emphasizes strategies to build on the work of the pilot regional group, support similar regional planning across Illinois, increase efficient investment in water infrastructure, and reward local practices that conserve shared water resources. Download a copy of Before the Wells Run Dry.

Contact Mandy Burrell Booth, MPC assistant communications director, at 312-863-6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org; or Chuck Mutscheller, Openlands communications director, at 312-863-6260 or mailto:cmutscheller@openlands.org, for more information.

Learn more about regional and statewide water supply planning at www.metroplanning.org/water or www.openlands.org.

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