Update: The Water Resources ON TO 2050 strategy paper is now available and your feedback is welcome. Send your thoughts, ideas, or questions to ONTO2050@cmap.illinois.gov.
Water Resources support a high quality of life
Abundant and high quality water resources play an essential role in sustaining economic prosperity, environmental health, and quality of life within the Chicago metropolitan region. Water supplies from Lake Michigan, the Fox and Kankakee Rivers, and shallow and deep‐ bedrock aquifers support the region's industry, households, and energy generation needs. Aquatic systems support an array of ecosystem services, a rich composition of native flora and fauna, recreation, and water purification. Lake Michigan and the region's waterways also provide one of the great recreational systems in the country, while simultaneously transporting goods, both nationally and globally. Protecting and enhancing the integrity of these shared resources is critical to maintaining the region's economic competitiveness and livability.
Planning and policy are key for protecting water resources
How we manage our water resources is determined to some extent by the Clean Water Act, at the highest level, and local plans, policies, and ordinances in our communities. Water quality has improved significantly due to wastewater controls, yet pollutants carried by rain water runoff continue to be difficult to manage. Water supply, once thought to be virtually limitless, is showing signs of near term shortages in some of our groundwater-served communities, as well as the loss of billions of gallons of water from leaky infrastructure. Aquatic habitats are degraded across the region, most severely in the more urbanized and impervious watersheds. Planning to protect and restore these resources and integrate appropriate standards and practices into local guidelines can help to slow and reverse the impacts of development.
Water resource strategies in ON TO 2050
GO TO 2040 and Water 2050: Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply/Demand Plan both address water resources. ON TO 2050 will highlight the continued evolution of water resource management policies through a variety of lenses: improved regional coordination and information; improved land use planning and policy approaches; better coordination of subregional water withdrawals; investments in infrastructure and facilities; and access to and restoration of our aquatic ecosystems. More details about the challenges and strategies for addressing them can be found in the Water Resources Strategy paper.