The Northwest Water Planning Alliance is working to make sure that regional water supplies, like the Fox River pictured above, remain healthy and viable water sources.
World Water Day, which will take place on Saturday, March 22 this year, offers an opportunity to reflect upon progress made to effectively manage water supplies during the previous year and to promote sustainable water supply practices for the future. Begun in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, World Water Day is an annual event that brings worldwide attention to critical water issues like water security and access to safe drinking water.
The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been hard at work addressing regional water supply concerns by promoting collaborative planning and water efficiency. MPC is supporting the Northwest Water Planning Alliance (NWPA), roughly 80 municipalities working together to plan for and steward shared river and groundwater resources, and this group has made significant progress during the past year. Some of NWPA’s accomplishments include:
- The development and passage of its first Strategic Plan, detailing methods to achieve the group’s three overarching goals—build organizational capacity, provide education and outreach to raise awareness of the value of water as a finite asset and develop sustainable water-use policies that are widely adopted and protective of water supplies.
- The creation of a user-friendly water reporting tool for member water providers. The tool was developed in partnership with the Ill. State Water Survey and went live this month. This dataset will allow NWPA to better understand consumer demand and make informed planning decisions. And as an added incentive, monthly data submission takes the place of the annual Illinois Water Inventory Program submission requirement.
- The introduction of a monthly e-newsletter to keep stakeholders up-to-date about water supply issues within the NWPA region. The newsletter highlights water-related events and resources. Subscribe here!
- The production of the Lawn and Landscape Practices for NWPA Communities manual with support from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. The manual provides an overview of NWPA communities' water sources and conservation ordinances. It also discusses efficient lawn care practices that utilize minimal water amounts while maximizing lawn performance.
- The promotion of U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program and the importance of water efficiency. NWPA has a WaterSense partner participation rate of nearly 50 percent!
NWPA will continue to take a forward-thinking approach to water supply management in 2014 and work with its partners to advance the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan. Most notably, NWPA will work with the Ill. State Water Survey to develop an estimate of available water supplies and optimal well networks and will promote its regional lawn watering conservation ordinance. The group will also continue its ongoing outreach efforts to elected officials and the public with new educational materials about the importance of water efficiency and conservation.
World Water Day reminds us all about the importance of maintaining a sustainable water supply for the health of our region’s people, economy and environment. MPC is excited to work with NWPA to implement sensible, collaborative solutions to groundwater and surface water supply concerns in northeastern Illinois. Let’s all make the best use of our water resources this year and work to ensure the availability of water for generations to come.