Posted on August 11, 2011 1:54 PM
Water 2050 Update, 8-11-11
The latest Water 2050 Update includes information on free bill insert designs as part of the Water 2050 Technical Assistance program, local watershed planning in the Fox River basin, Green Infrastructure Grants to several Illinois communities, and more. Approved unanimously in January 2010, the Water 2050 plan the official water supply/demand plan for an 11-county planning area of northeastern Illinois.
Progress from CMAP
Low-cost public outreach. CMAP is providing free bill insert designs to public water suppliers and municipalities as part of the Water 2050 Technical Assistance program. The bill inserts deliver a concise message using text, compelling imagery, and focus on a variety of topics from conservation to groundwater protection, with more to come. For more details and any questions, contact Amy Talbot (firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-386-8646).
CMAP and local partners The Conservation Foundation
and the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
have been working on three watershed plans within the Fox River basin over the last year. This summer, work has focused on identifying potential projects to reduce nonpoint source pollution within these watersheds. For more information on upcoming meetings, please visit the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership’s Watershed Planning webpage
. Plans are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011.
Progress in the Region
Green Infrastructure Grants awarded. A number of Illinois communities were awarded a portion of nearly $5 million in Green Infrastructure Grants funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to decrease pollution entering Illinois water bodies. Projects are funded in the categories of combined sewer overflow, storm retention and infiltration, and small projects. . Aging infrastructure coupled with rising populations has placed more pressure on sewers when dealing with runoff from storm events, leading to overflows of bacteria-filled water during heavy rains. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has ordered several Illinois communities without plans to prepare strategies for reducing future overflow occurrences.
Potential new water-purchase group. Five municipalities are considering forming a water-purchasing group to potentially negotiate better water rates once their contract agreement with the Village of Oak Lawn is up for renewal in October. Orland Park Village Manager Paul Grimes says the Village, along with Tinley Park, New Lenox, Frankfort, Mokena, and Oak Forest, collectively account for 70 percent of Oak Lawn’s water sales. Alternatives to this option would include forming a water commission; entering a purchasing group or authority separate from Oak Lawn; and asking for changes in the existing contract that would establish performance standards, operations oversight, and participation in decision-making for future improvement of water infrastructure.
Water in the News
Power plants threaten fish. The Chicago Tribune obtained records indicating that when several Great Lakes power plants take in water to cool equipment, they kill millions of fish annually. Fish are killed when strong pumps suck them through intake screens and the high heat and pressure cook eggs, larvae, and young fish to death. Additionally, the water released back into the Lakes is hotter than the surrounding water. This leads to increased algae growth that depletes oxygen levels, killing fish and dirtying beaches. This “once through” cooling method is banned at newer power plants. A federal proposal was issued in March requiring older plants to reduce the power of the water intakes or meet certain limits of fish kills. However, according to U.S. EPA documents, nearly 60 percent of the facilities affected will remain unchanged.
More evidence of Asian carp. Several water samples taken from above the Chicago canal system electric barriers tested positive for the presence of Asian carp “environmental” DNA, according to the Wall Street Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Scientists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stressed that positive tests are still a rarity and environmental DNA only establishes the presence of trace amounts of Asian carp DNA, not the presence of actual fish. Of these most recent positive tests, the majority came from Lake Calumet, a water body directly connected to Lake Michigan. Army Corps officials say they remain confident that the barriers are effective.
Contaminated beach waters. A recent National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study found Illinois beaches to be among the most contaminated in the country. Chicago’s most contaminated beaches include the South Shore, Rainbow, 63rd Street, Montrose, and 31st Street Beaches, while North Point Marina Beach in Lake County made the report's "repeat offender" category. The report cites aging, inadequate sewer infrastructure as one major cause of beach contamination.
Proposed water funding cuts. WaterWorld reports that the proposed Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill from the House Appropriations Committee would cut deeply into U.S. EPA funding, along with funding for other land and water management agencies. For the U.S. EPA, this equals a funding cut of $1.5 billion from last year. The drinking water and clean water revolving funds face the largest cuts of nearly a $1 billion combined. These funds provide money for water infrastructure improvement loans.
A Conversation with Charles Fishman. On August 18, the Metropolitan Planning Council, Openlands, and the Union League Club’s Authors Group will present host a luncheon with Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. The event costs $30 per person. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event.
Lawn to Lake workshop. On October 13, CMAP and its partners will host the workshop "Natural Lawn Care and Sustainable Landscaping" for municipalities and landscape professionals at the College of Lake County. The workshop will introduce natural lawn and sustainable landscaping techniques, resources, and implementation; address contract and ordinance review; and discuss managing stormwater with rain-friendly landscaping. To register, visit www.libertyprairie.org or call 847.548.5989 ext.33. This workshop is sponsored through the Lawn to Lakes program. To learn more about the program, contact Margaret Schneemann at MSchneemann@cmap.illinois.gov.
Full-cost water pricing webinar. On November 8, the Wisconsin and Illinois chapters of the American Water Works Association (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.