Northwest Water Planning Alliance
Collaboration is a key ingredient of water resource stewardship efforts. With groundwater dependent communities in mind, Water 2050 recommends collaborative planning and management in lieu of more government regulation to guard against groundwater overuse and the potential conflicts that groundwater shortage could someday cause.
Following such advice, the Northwest Water Planning Alliance (NWPA) was initiated in August 2010, soon after Water 2050 was published. Born of an intergovernmental agreement involving ten parties representing over 70 communities and their county governments, the NWPA aims to collaboratively plan for their shared groundwater resources. The geography of the NWPA is roughly coincident with, but not limited to, the Fox River Basin in Illinois. Developing a strategic plan was a core component of the work. The NWPA now has a mission and vision statement, as well as goals and objectives with the lead implementers identified.
The NWPA, formed by intergovernmental agreement, seeks to collaboratively plan for and steward our shared river and groundwater resources to ensure a sustainable water supply for the people, economy, environment, and future generations.
The NWPA area will have dependable supplies of water for generations to come.
The water resources available to NWPA members are facing challenges: the deep-bedrock aquifer continues to be "mined" as withdrawals outpace recharge, the Fox River has revealed its limitations as a water source during the historic drought of 2011-12, and withdrawals of shallow groundwater are reducing natural groundwater discharge that helps support adequate flow in rivers and streams. Furthermore, shallow groundwater supplies may be disrupted should a drought persist beyond the typical duration of one to two years. As a result, an interest in drought preparedness and strategic planning has emerged. NWPA partnered with CMAP in the form of a Local Technical Assistance (LTA) planning grant to advance this effort, which is summarized in the Northwest Water Planning Alliance Strategic Plan: 2014-2016.
Drought preparedness requires an understanding of available supply of water, current and historic water usage, current and projected water demand, and other water-related data. However, the NWPA is without such data, preventing analysis and the information that informs collaborative planning and management. Preliminary water use data among NWPA members was summarized for 2010, 2011, and 2012 using data reported to the Illinois Water Inventory Program (IWIP). Aquifer recharge was examined for the NWPA geography, though uncertainty in a number of key areas resulted in a failure to develop an estimate of available supply. The ongoing data collection needs require the cooperation of municipal member water departments, IWIP, and the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS).
CMAP, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and Metropolitan Planning Council have worked with NWPA to create two outreach brochures to help individuals and communities secure a sustainable water supply: Household Water Efficiency and Conserving Water Outdoors.