Progress from CMAP
IDNR newsletter features Water 2050 recommendations. The August edition of the Lake Michigan Water Allocation newsletter from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) highlighted Water 2050, specifically the recommendation to create a Model Water Conservation Ordinance. CMAP completed a model ordinance and is looking for communities to implement all or a portion of it at the local level. INDR recommends that permittees review and consider the model ordinance for use in their communities. For assistance or comments about the model ordinance, please contact Amy Talbot (email@example.com or 312-386-8646).
St. Charles Park District/Norris Woods Creek stabilization project. Construction has begun for the St. Charles Park District/Norris Woods Creekstabilization project. Funded under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) FY 08 Section 319 grant cycle to CMAP, the project includes stabilizing the streambank and streambed of a 1,700 foot segment of Norris Woods Creek, a tributary of the Fox River, located in the Norris Woods Nature Preserve. The Norris Woods project will include reconfiguration of accumulated sediment in an on-line pond to facilitate installation of wetland plant species to slow and filter streamflow; reconfiguration of a basin located in the lower third of the project site into a vegetated swale to collect and filter runoff before discharging to the creek; and development and installation of two interpretive signs to be installed at the project site.
Progress in the Region
SOM launches new Great Lakes website. The global design firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) recently launched a website, the Great Lakes Century, as a forum to discuss strategies for protecting the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Century is a free initiative of SOM’s City Design Practice -- architects and urban planners working under worldwide urban planning partner Philip Enquist, who conceived of the idea as the firm’s contribution to the 2009 Burnham Plan Centennial. The new website features SOM’s graphic vision document, journal article, presentations, posts from various contributors, and areas to respond to the posts.
City plans for new Chicago River boathouses. The City of Chicago announced plans to build four new boathouses in the ongoing effort to increase access to and interest in the Chicago River. The boathouses will be located along four spots on the Chicago River, including a new park by Bubbly Creek, Ping Tom Park in Chinatown, Clark Park in North Center, and River Park in Ravenswood. Construction of the boathouses will cost an estimated $4 million each, to be funded through both the City and private donations. Recent federal mandates have pushed for improvements to the quality of the waterway.
IDNR to review Allocation of Water from Lake Michigan rules. IDNR will review the Allocation of Water from Lake Michigan rules, focusing on updating the water efficient plumbing section and updating methodology to calculate LMO-2, according to the IDNR newsletter (also mentioned above). Both proposed changes are in line with the recommendations in Water 2050 and could increase the efficiency of region’s collective water supplies.
The first area IDNR intends to focus on is the updating the water efficient plumbing section (Section 3730.307(c)(4)) to be more in line with the fixture flow rates in the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and the WaterSense Program-both new developments since the original rules were adopted. The second area is updating the methodology of the LMO-2 form with the removal of the “unavoidable leakage” component of the calculation (Section 3730.102 Definitions and also in Section 3730.307(b)). The unavoidable leakage component represents a significant quantity of lost water and dollars.
The incorporation of these two changes would be important in terms of increasing the efficiency of our region’s collective water supplies, not only for the communities on Lake Michigan but also for groundwater communities that are in the midst of obtaining Lake Michigan water both now and in the future. Understanding the effects of these proposed changes on communities will need to be considered throughout the process. However, it is evident that these rules need to be reviewed and revisited as technology, population, and the water supply environment has changed and will continue to change over time.
Water in the News
Proposed Chicago budget would increase water rates. Yesterday, the City of Chicago announced plans to increase water and sewer rates in Chicago’s 2012 proposed budget. The proposed budget prioritizes improving the City’s water system to address aging infrastructure, citing city water rates that are currently among the lowest in the country. Under this proposed budget, water and sewer rates would double over the next four years, an increase for the average Chicago household of $120 in 2012. The budget includes other provisions to raise revenue as well, such as a “congestion fee” charged to car owners that park downtown and a fee for larger vehicles that contribute disproportionately to street wear. Ultimately, this plan would fill a $636 million budget shortfall without needing to raise property, sales, or income taxes.
New Illinois medicine collection laws.Governor Quinn has signed legislation that will facilitate collection of unused meds by law enforcement agencies. The signing of House Bill 2056 and House Bill 3090 was a result of thePrescription Pill and Drug Disposal program (P2D2). In northeastern Illinois, the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG), in partnership with the P2D2 program, developed The Medicine Chest, a collection of activities and learning resources for students to learn about stewardship of water resources. For more information about starting a program in your community, contact Laura Kammin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Emerging contaminants of concern. The Chicago Tribune ran a special report on emerging contaminants in Chicago tap water. To learn more about emerging contaminants in the Great Lakes, see the International Joint Commission report “Chemicals of Emerging Concern in the Great Lakes Region.” Some pesticides were found to be particularly high in urban areas due to lawn care activities. CMAP has partnered with IISG in developing the Lawn to Lake program to help those in our region change their lawn and landscape practices to reduce pesticide inputs into local waters. A follow-up article from the Tribune focused on a screening process for lead-contaminated water.
President Obama backs bill for water infrastructure bank. In a speech on September 8t to a joint session of Congress, President Obama spoke in support of a bill that would create a federal water infrastructure bank. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) supports a federal water infrastructure bank as a means of addressing necessary repair and replacement of our aging water services infrastructure for systems in economic need. The AWWA acknowledges that the ideal is a water system that is able to sustain itself though full cost rates and charges. CMAP will be issuing a full cost of water services white paper later this fall.
Judges deny request to close Chicago-area locks. A federal appeals panel has denied a request from five Great Lakes states to close the Chicago-area locks. The suit was an effort to control the invasion of Asian carp entering Lake Michigan through the Chicago waterways. Currently, the locks are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to control flooding during heavy rains and to enable shipping to pass through the area. The federal lawsuit by Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin requested that the Great Lakes and Mississippi systems be physically separated as quickly as possible. Critics of the request, however, say that such a closure could have a significant economic impact on the area and put flood-prone communities at greater risk.
Another potential water supplier for Lake County communities. Waukegan officials are positioning their water plant to be a prospective water vendor to the North-West Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group. Thenew planning group includes Antioch, Fox Lake, Lake Villa, Lake Zurich, Lindenhurst, Long Grove, Volo, Wauconda and the unincorporated areas of Fox Lake Hills and Grandwood Park. In September, Waukegan aldermen authorized contracts for two Chicago-based companies to explore the potential for Waukegan to supply Lake Michigan water to these communities from the city’s current excess capacity. Other potential vendors are the Lake County Public Water District in Zion and the Central Lake County Joint Water Action Agency in Lake Bluff.
Healthy Watersheds Initiate National Framework and Action Plan. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently released the Healthy Watersheds Initiative (HWI) National Framework and Action Plan 2011. It was developed to protect healthy watersheds, accelerate restoration efforts, and prevent watersheds from becoming impaired. The plan provides a framework for action among U.S. EPA’s own programs, as well as the agency’s work with states and program partners, to identify healthy watersheds and develop and implement comprehensive strategies to protect and restore them.
Free IGIG workshops. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) will host two free workshops on applying for the 2012 Illinois Green Infrastructure Grants Program for Stormwater Management (IGIG). Prospective applicants and interested parties can attend workshops on October 17 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at MPC's offices (140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 1400) or October 18 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at The Centre in Elgin (North Banquet Facility,100 Symphony Way). The grant application deadline is December 15, 2011. Read about local 2011 IGIG recipients at CMAP’s Policy Updates blog.
Public meetings for Chicago-area waterway system. On Thursday, October 20, the Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative will hold the first in a series of public meetings on “Envisioning a Chicago Area Waterway System for the 21st Century,” at the John G. Shedd Aquarium (1200 S. Lake Shore Drive) from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The initiative is developing and evaluating options for separating the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds in the Chicago area to prevent the transfer of aquatic invasive species such as Asian carp, while improving other aspects of the system including transportation, water quality, and stormwater management.
Ladybug Bash. On Friday, November 4, Safer Pest Control Project will host its annual Ladybug Bash at SPACE (1245 Chicago Avenue, Evanston) from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Tickets purchased in advance are $65 per person and $75 at the door. The Safer Pest Control Project is committed to reducing the health risks and environmental impacts of pesticides, which often can contaminate our groundwater.
Full-cost water pricing webinar. On November 8, the Wisconsin and Illinois chapters of AWWA will co-host “Ensuring Sustainable Water Systems through Innovative, Full Cost Water Pricing,” a webinar for utility personnel, financial managers, and local elected officials. This webinar will provide information on using full cost rates to address cost recovery, finance aging infrastructure needs, and promote water efficiency. Presenters include Jan Beecher, Institute of Public Utilities, Michigan State University; Drema Gross, Austin Water Utility; and CMAP’s Margaret Schneemann, Water Resource Economist. To learn more and to register, visit www.isawwa.org or call 866-521-3595 ext. 2.