County in 1 of 2 regions identified as most at risk for water
shortages and conflicts
water supply committee delivers results of new 3-year study
Part 1: Where
are the water supplies and how much is being consumed today?
Pictured from left: Jay Henry, Mount Zion;
Melvin Pleines, Minier; Jeff Smith, Easton;
Robbie Berg, Urbana; Morris Bell; Chandlerville; and Ed Mehnert,
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(Originally posted Monday)
[August 25, 2009]
Water is essential for life. For
centuries, where water has been available is where people have
settled and communities have grown up. Yet water, like other natural
resources, is vulnerable to overuse as populations grow, to
contamination or misuse, and also is subject to climate changes,
such as extensive drought conditions. Clearly, this critical,
limited resource must be monitored, protected and managed.
The Illinois economy, which is driven by agriculture and supported
by industry and commerce, is subject to water levels and
availability. A significant three-year drought in the late 1980s and
several temporary drought conditions since then have demonstrated
Illinois' need and vulnerability to this resource. Recent business
interests in developing ethanol plants, which combine agriculture
and industry, called for specific studies on local water resources
because of the high volume of water used in the production process.
And of course, communities rely on clean drinking water.
In January of 2006, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued
Executive Order 2006-01 charging the Office of Water Resources of
the Illinois, Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois State
Water Survey with the task of developing a comprehensive program for
state and regional water supply planning and management.
The agencies determined to begin action in the regions that are
most at risk for water shortages and conflicts. The top two are
regions identified as supplied by the Mahomet Aquifer and the
Northeastern Illinois Deep Aquifer. Logan County and the counties of
Cass, Champaign, DeWitt, Ford, Iroquois, Macon, Mason, McLean,
Menard, Piatt, Sangamon, Tazewell, Vermillion and Woodford are all
served by the Mahomet and now make up the East Central Illinois
Twelve members were chosen to serve on the East Central Illinois
Regional Water Supply Planning Committee and represent specific
interest areas as follows: agriculture, small business, public,
water authorities, water utilities, municipal environmental, county,
rural water districts, industry, electric generating utilities, and
soil and water conservation districts. According to information from
the committee, the members are also "geographically balanced by
region" as follows: west -- Cass, Logan Mason, Menard, Sangamon and
Tazewell counties; central -- DeWitt, Macon, McLean, Piatt and
Woodford counties; and east -- Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and
The East Central Illinois Region is now one of two pilot regions
in the state. The second region is in the Chicago area, and soon a
third will begin work in southern Illinois. Eventually, the entire
state will be divided into nine such regions
What is the future of water for Lincoln and Logan County?
Last week members of the East Central Illinois Regional Water
Supply Planning Committee invited local officials to a public
meeting to share the information from the findings from a three-year
water supply study. The study examined the current rate of growth in
business, industry and population; looked at the daily water
consumption in the region; considered all water resources; and then
projected future needs.
Various members of the committee presented scientific data in
laymen's terms and then fielded questions about the future of our
water supply and how it will affect Lincoln and Logan County.
Committee member Jay Henry of Mount Zion served as the moderator for
the meeting. He began with a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation on
the findings of the committee and the recommendations the committee
has for future preservation of water in the region.
Henry began by offering statistics on the current water
consumption in the region.
In 2005 the daily consumption of water in the 15-county region
was 320 million gallons per day. Henry said that to help visualize
that amount of water, consider its measurement in acre-feet.
An acre-foot is the measurement of water 1 foot deep over a
1-acre plot, which comes to approximately 325,000 gallons.
Saying that the average football field is about 1 acre, the water
on a football field would have to stand 3-feet deep to approximate 1
million gallons of water.
Here is an illustration:
Try to imagine 320 of those football fields, each with 3 feet of
water standing on them, stacked all on top of one another. That
height would exceed the St. Louis Gateway Arch by 330 feet and would
measure above or equal to many of the skyscraper structures in the
city of Chicago. And that is only one day's consumption.
[to top of second column]
Now, picture this: By the year 2050 at the current rate of growth in
business, industry and population, that daily consumption in the
region will reach 600 million gallons per day.
Henry postulated and answered, "So, where is this water coming from,
and how much of it do we have?" Within the region, there are two
primary sources of mass quantities of water: the Mahomet Aquifer and
the Sangamon River Watershed.
The Mahomet Aquifer is a body of water deep underground,
extending east to west, that affects all of this the region's
counties with the exception of Cass, Menard and Sangamon. The
Sangamon River Watershed affects those three counties and overlaps
the aquifer in Champaign, DeWitt, Ford, Logan, Macon, Mason, McLean,
Piatt and Tazewell counties.
According to Henry, in Logan County specifically there are
sufficient supplies in the aquifer to sustain the community at its
current rate of growth.
However, he, along with Edward Mehnert of the University of
Illinois Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, explained
that there are areas of Logan County that have more water
available than others, and that when considering growth in
business and industry, city and county planners need to know
and understand where the water is before they develop an area.
Mehnert gave an example, saying that in the Lincoln area the
aquifer is more saturated on the north side of town than it is on
the south. Therefore as the city's economic development partnership
works to bring new industry in, they might want to promote an area
on the north side of town if the company will need their own wells
and be using large volumes of water.
He went on to say that every city and or county planner in the
water supply planning region should be concerned about this, and
they are encouraged to contact the committee for assistance in
identifying proper locations for development based on water needs.
In Part 2, Lincoln Daily News tells you where in
this region the water supply volume would first become an issue, and
[By NILA SMITH]
East Central Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Committee:
Mahomet Aquifer Consortium:
Illinois State Water Survey:
Illinois State Geological Survey:
Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts:
Illinois Department of Natural Resources:
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency:
Illinois Pollution Control Board:
Illinois Department of Agriculture:
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