Posted on December 09, 2010 2:31 PM
Water 2050 Update, 12-9-10
Progress from CMAP
Healthy Landscapes Healthy Lakes. On November 15, 2010, CMAP hosted the kick-off meeting for Healthy Landscapes Healthy Lakes, a project funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to reduce pesticide and fertilizer inputs to the Great Lakes Basin. It will promote natural lawn care, which potentially reduces irrigation and mowing requirements by up to 50 percent as compared to conventionally maintained lawns, thereby saving both water and energy. The project will provide education and outreach for proper pesticide, phosphorous use, and soil testing for landscape businesses and municipalities. This past July, the State of Illinois passed a bill (HB6099) restricting application of phosphorous on turfgrass subject to a soil test. For more information on the Healthy Landscapes project, contact Margaret Schneemann at MSchneemann@cmap.illinois.gov.
Watershed plans. CMAP and local planning partners The Conservation Foundation and Environmental Defenders of McHenry County are continuing the watershed planning process. Stakeholders from Blackberry Creek, Ferson-Otter Creek, Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds have developed planning goals and discussed data to be included in the Watershed Resource Inventories. The next meetings will focus on groundwater protection. There will be a Blackberry Creek meeting on December 14 at 2:00 p.m. at 52 Wheeler Road in Sugar Grove, and on December 16 there will be a Ferson-Otter Creek watershed meeting at 10:00 a.m. at 5N082 Old LaFox Road in St. Charles. The Fox River Ecosystem Partnership will be continually updating their website with information about the planning process including meeting dates and materials. If you would like to receive more information regarding the plans please contact Megan Elberts (email@example.com or 312-386-8794).
Progress in the Region
New WaterSense Partner. Batavia is our region's newest WaterSense Partner. Congratulations to Batavia for partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) WaterSense Program. As a partner, Batavia now has access to all of the WaterSense Partner resources such as bill inserts, public service announcements, and other public information campaign materials to assist in their outreach effort to their customers about water efficiency. "The City of Batavia is proud to be a WaterSense partner," said Mr. John Dillon, Batavia Water & Sewer Division Superintendent. "We look forward to working with our customers to improve water efficiency awareness and promote WaterSense labeled products and water-saving practices inside and outside the home."
Batavia joins the region's 20 other WaterSense partners, which couldn't have come at a better time. Partnerships and collaboration are a must in today's economic times when many communities and utilities have limited resources. WaterSense is a FREE partnership for utilities, local governments, and non-profits. The real benefit lies in the ready-to-go resources that can help kick off a public information campaign. In many cases, a partner just adds their logo and contact information to make customized yet nationally branded outreach materials, saving money and time. The partnership also gives communities recognition and exposure on the national WaterSense website. Additionally, if a community is hosting a rebate program (for toilets, showerheads, faucets, urinals), WaterSense provides an approved list of third-party tested (both quality and performance) high-efficiency products. Lastly, if the replacement fixtures are purchased from local dealers, the community can benefit economically and environmentally from such a program. CMAP joined WaterSense in January of this year and we have used WaterSense water savings calculations, fixture fact sheets, and bill insert templates (offered to partners only) during the course of the year. For questions about the program and more information, contact Cary McElhinney (firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-386-4313).
WOWW launch. The Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands recently launched the public information campaign What Our Water's Worth (WOWW). The website and e-newsletter offer a range of educational resources, including a map to show residents where their water comes from.
McHenry water resources. McHenry County Water Resources Manager Cassandra McKinney invited CMAP and the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) to speak to the McHenry Groundwater Task Force on Water Conservation and Rate Setting this fall. CMAP and RCAP have partnered to provide technical assistance to utilities on financial and rate setting. This partnership is part of Water 2050 implementation and the continuing partnership between Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and CMAP. McKinney was also quoted on the front page of the November 29 Northwest Herald in an article about road salt use. For more information on financial and rate setting assistance contact Margaret Schneemann at MSchneemann@cmap.illinois.gov.
Water conservation film contest. The DuPage Water Commission is sponsoring a water conservation film contest. The contest is free to enter and is intended to inspire students to create a 30-second visual message about water conservation and protection in DuPage County, IL. The contest is open to all high school and college students located within the County. The winning film will be featured on the DuPage Water Commission's website and will receive a trophy, as well as be eligible for other prizes from participating partners. Submittals are due January 3, 2011.
In Water 2050, school education is one of the approved strategies for demand management (Chapter 4). The DuPage Water Commission's Film Contest is a creative example of a school education activity that engages younger generations to start thinking about conservation and what they can do to help. Ideally, these students would turn this learning experience into a life-long practice of protecting and conserving their water source, Lake Michigan. However, this conservation-minded perspective can be useful regardless of where life takes these students and what water source they will use in the future. School education and public information (outreach to a more general audience) are key components to a successful conservation program. It is important for individuals to understand why protecting their water source is important and how it benefits them and the community, both now and in the future. This knowledge adds motivation behind water conserving actions like purchasing a WaterSense toilet, installing native landscaping, or other initiatives.
Fox River Study Group annual meeting. CMAP attended the Fox River Study Group's annual meeting on October 28, 2010 in Batavia. At this meeting, Megan Elberts presented on how CMAP will be utilizing a model the Illinois State Water Survey has created for the Study Group. CMAP will be using the model to estimate current and future pollutant loading as part of the four watershed plans in the Fox River Basin.
Save the date: Water Resources Forum. CMAP will host its second Water Resources Forum on January 27, 2011, with a focus on regional flooding and stormwater management. Following the aftermath of the flooding events that engulfed the region last summer, this forum will provide timely information to elected officials and governmental staff on hazard mitigation planning, potential funding sources, and the use of green infrastructure practices for stormwater management. The discussion is part of a series of forums that seek to follow up on key issues highlighted in Water 2050, the northeastern Illinois regional water supply/demand plan. Please visit www.cmap.illinois.gov/water-2050/ in the upcoming weeks for agenda and event details.
Water reuse roundtable. Rainwater harvesting and grey water reuse will be the focus of "Right as Rain: Advancing Safe, Sustainable Water Reuse," a roundtable on strategies to "create" water supply. The roundtable will discuss water supply conservation, stormwater mitigation, and the wastewater benefits of rainwater harvesting and grey water reuse; requirements for safe use and reuse of alternative water supplies; job creation potential of opening up niche plumbing markets; and opportunities for plumbing and building codes to be more responsive to sustainability policy goals, while also protecting public health and safety. Register for the upcoming roundtable hosted by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and Openlands online. The event will take place on December 16, 2010, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the MPC offices at 140 S. Dearborn Ave, Suite 1400, Chicago. Lunch will be provided and the cost is $15 for current MPC donors and Openlands members, $30 for all others.
Rainwater harvesting is the collection and storage of runoff from small impervious surfaces, usually home or building roofs, for later use. Although this is seen as a progressive water conservation technique, rainwater harvesting has been around for at least 3,000 years (arguably much longer) and utilizes relatively simple techniques such as above and below ground cisterns and storage tanks. Rainwater can be used for non potable purposes such as landscaping irrigation, toilet flushing, and clothes washing, which in turn decreases the amount of potable water needed in a household or business. CMAP features rainwater harvesting in our Model Water Conservation Ordinance (pages 32 to 33) for communities to consider updating their local codes and zoning ordinances. However, the application of this part of the model ordinance is dependent on the passage of state legislation (Ill. Senate Bill 2549) that seeks to amend the Illinois Plumbing License Law to allow for the use of rainwater for non potable uses. Even though the bill hasn't made it through the Illinois General Assembly yet, there are a few locations in the state that have obtained exemptions. The Lake County Forest Preserve's Ryerson Woods Welcome Center is close to completing an indoor plumbing system that will use rainwater for flushing toilets. Rainwater harvesting should be an economical and approved option for residents, businesses, and communities to meet their water supply needs, at least of the non potable kind.
Asset management class. On January 26, 2011, U.S. EPA and Illinois Water Environment Association will host a workshop on asset management. This workshop will present a comprehensive approach to managing infrastructure capital assets, including concepts, tools, techniques, and technologies used to achieve cost-effective performance. Participants can earn six professional develop hours (PDHs) or 0.6 continuing education units (CEUs). Click here for a copy of the Workshop Program. The $50.00 registration fee includes workshop and lunch. Register online.
Green Infrastructure conference. From February 23 to 25, 2011, the Conservation Fund will host its National Green Infrastructure Conference in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. This inaugural conference will bring together policy-makers, practitioners, and implementers of green infrastructure practices and design.
ISSRM call for papers. From June 4 to 8, 2011, the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) will host "Integrating Conservation and Sustainable Living" at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The call for papers is open now through mid-February 2011.
Water scarcity risk and municipal bonds. A report released this October, The Ripple Effect - Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market, highlights the relationship between water scarcity and municipal bond markets. The report was authored by Ceres and the analysis was performed by Water Asset Management. Using a method of measuring water risk developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, water risk scores were developed for a sample of eight utilities facing water stress. The report concluded that bond rating agencies fail to incorporate the impact of increased water risk on the bond's risk profile, thereby giving bonds a higher rating than if water risks had been considered in the rating. The report concluded that investors, rating agencies, and public utilities have room for improvement in managing water scarcity risks.
Fellowship opportunities. There are several fellowship opportunities available to graduate students in the Illinois-Indiana region through IISG. For more information, see http://www.iiseagrant.org/fellowships.html.
New water charter. The Action H2O Sustainability Charter has launched in Canada with the goal of working in communities to reduce water use. The charter asks communities to commit to water conservation and provides them with a host of resources to do so, including a WaterSmart Toolkit, Water Conservation Planning Guidebook, and a WaterSmart Scenario builder to calculate water and energy savings under a 'Soft Path' planning approach to water management. These resources may be helpful as we move forward in implementing Water 2050 and adapting lessons learned elsewhere to our region.
Water education resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently updated and launched their new educational website, which has five theme areas: oceans and coasts, climate, weather and atmosphere, marine life, and freshwater. The website includes educational resources for the Great Lakes region. To help prepare graduate students in addressing water challenges of the 21st Century, the University of Illinois developed a new interdisciplinary course, Water for Life: Addressing a 21st Century Crisis focusing on water toxicology.
Water in the News
Flood insurance bill. Flooding will be a topic for discussion in the U.S. Senate during the current session. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) co-authored a bill that would delay for five years the mandatory purchase of flood insurance for areas that have been newly designated as being at high risk of flooding by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the bill seeks to provide temporary relief for communities that are aggressively upgrading protection against a 100-year flood event. Meanwhile, FEMA has launched a new initiative called "Risk MAP" that aims to address gaps in flood hazard data. FEMA is partnering with the University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois State Water Survey to develop the first maps in Illinois for the Lower Fox River Watershed. Meetings were held in November in Kane and Kendall Counties and additional data and input was collected to enhance the Draft Discovery Map. Data collected will be used in modeling efforts to develop Flood Depth and Flood Velocity Grids, which can be used to identify flood risks not currently identified on FIRMs.
New carp bill. On November 17, 2010, the U.S. Senate passed the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, which lists the bighead carp as an injurious species. Such species may not be imported or shipped in interstate commerce if the species is alive. This Act seeks to minimize the risk of introduction of Asian carp in waterways. This is another step in the battle against introduction of carp into the Great Lakes. Read more at the Detroit Free Press. In more Asian carp news, a federal judge ruled on December 2 that Chicago-area shipping locks can remain open as the "plaintiffs cannot establish a showing of irreparable harm" should the locks remain open. Read more from the Chicago Tribune. The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) continues to work to raise awareness of invasive species in the state through their award-winning Nab the Aquatic Invader!outreach program. Debate continues, reports the Chicago Tribune, about the impact of other invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, on the Great Lakes ecosystem.
About the Water 2050 newsletter
Regional water-resource stewardship took a giant leap forward on January 26, 2010, when the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Group (RWSPG) unanimously approved a plan that aims to avoid imbalances between water demand and regional supplies. Read more in this press release. Water 2050: Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply/Demand Plan was developed over the past three years by CMAP staff with input and guidance from the RWSPG, the Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The next steps we must take as a region to implement water plan recommendations are equally important. A new commitment to water-use conservation and demand management is the cornerstone of the water plan. Among the attributes of any successful conservation program are political leadership, stable funding, education, and outreach. This Water 2050 newsletter is designed to be one such outreach mechanism. This newsletter will be issued on the second Thursday of every other month. This will be a means to communicate newsworthy items, share valuable resources, and promote ongoing and diverse efforts around water resources planning and management, both at CMAP and throughout the region. We are interested in your water news! This newsletter will feature local examples of water planning and conservation, so please contact Justine Reisinger (email@example.com or 312-386-8802) with your news and examples.