The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) will be conducting a regional assessment of sandstone water levels throughout Northeastern Illinois starting on August 16, 2021 and extending into October. The goal of this project is to create a synopsis or “snapshot” of static and pumping water levels at high capacity municipal, industrial, and irrigation sandstone wells throughout a 12-county region. Specifically, the ISWS will visit high-capacity wells open to the St. Peter and Ironton-Galesville sandstones in Boone, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry, Will, and Winnebago Counties.
The ISWS has historically only measured static water levels in sandstone wells during previous synoptic measurements (the last one completed in 2015), however recent research has indicated that understanding pumping levels and specific capacities of production wells is vital in understanding the long-term viability of the sandstone aquifers. In the coming weeks, the ISWS will be contacting municipalities, industries, and other entities with high-capacity wells to schedule a time to visit to take static (non-pumping water levels) at sandstone wells. The ISWS will ask how long it has been since the well ran and request that wells be off for at least an hour prior to taking a static reading. In addition, the ISWS is asking facilities to:
Capturing both static and pumping levels, along with the pumping rate that was occurring at the time of the pumping level measurement, will allow the ISWS to map areas of high and low specific capacities for the sandstone aquifers. This reporting will ultimately help communities to: 1) understand how sandstone levels are changing through time, 2) understand how productivity varies among sandstone wells, and 3) ensure the long-term viability of the sandstone aquifers in the region.
If facilities have questions prior to the start of this project, please contact one of the following hydrogeologists at the ISWS:
Drought on the Horizon
Last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its latest Climate Normals – a decennial analysis of U.S. weather over three decades (1991 – 2020). This snapshot provides a more accurate reflection of what is considered ‘normal’ weather amid a rapidly changing climate. According to NOAA, the average annual temperature in Illinois has increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since the beginning of the 20th century. By the end of this century, temperatures are expected to rise 7 to 12 degrees.
The Illinois Water Inventory Program (IWIP) develops and maintains a database of high-capacity water wells and intakes from public water supplies, self-supplied industries, irrigation, fish and wildlife, and conservation sectors. But they do much more than collect data. Participation and involvement with IWIP pays dividends for operators, stakeholders, and users alike.
IWIP coordinates reporting and data collection on high-capacity water wells and intakes statewide, which are defined as any well or intake that is rated to pump 70 gallons per minute (gpm) or greater, both individually and as a combined measure when multiple wells/intakes are present at one facility. This collection is done primarily through IWIP’s Online Reporting Tool and covers groundwater and surface water uses.
As more residents are staying at home in response to the coronavirus, some utilities may be seeing an increase in residential water use. As the pandemic drags on, it’s easy to imagine residents spending more time in their gardens and lawns – which could result in an increase in outdoor water use. Under more normal circumstances, approximately one third of household water use is devoted to outdoor watering, and as much as 50 percent of that water is wasted due to unwise and wasteful watering behavior. Given these conditions, it’s a good time to review strategies to promote wise outdoor water use as the summer months approach.
The Metropolitan Planning Council debuted their latest report, Water Affordability in Northeastern Illinois, with a presentation and Q&A session at the February TAC meeting. The report examined the nuances around water affordability and pricing.
Water rates in Northeastern Illinois have gone up 80% over the past 10 years with many contributing factors, notably the need to replace aging water and sewer infrastructure. The report looked at different methods to measure affordability and water burden and tried to ask the question if unaffordable rates were an income inequality issue, a water pricing issue, or both.
WaterSense, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for helping you save water.
WaterSense partners are ambassadors spreading the water-efficiency message. Becoming a WaterSense partner is free and offers exclusive member-only resources, networking opportunities, and branding.
The NWPA encourages all member communities to become WaterSense partners. 26 NWPA member municipalities, including Aurora, Elgin, St. Charles, and Sugar Grove are already active partners. The partners-only resources page features collateral and outreach materials that are fully customizable for communicating initiatives to the public, the media, and stakeholders.
Pharmaceuticals find their way into the drinking water supply in numerous ways, including but not limited to septic systems, landfills, and fertilization.
Contaminants of emerging concern are chemicals that have been discovered in the environment with no current regulatory standard to control them. Recently identified and discovered due to advances in science, these chemicals are concerning because their impacts on water quality, aquatic life, and human health are still unknown. The most well-known of these chemicals are classified as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
What are PFAS?
PFAS are a group of 3,000 to 4,000 chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries dating back to the 1940’s. The chemicals are persistent and accumulate over time, and there is evidence of negative health impacts from PFAS on humans and animals. PFAS are found in everyday consumer goods – generally speaking, anything that is water resistant, heat-proof, or stain resistant includes PFAS. Historically, the largest source of PFAS exposure is from firefighting foam which was used most frequently at and around airports.
Most people have been exposed to PFAS, but not necessarily at the elevated levels that are concerning. When tested, PFAS has been found in 97% of tested human blood samples. However, there is no large-scale sampling effort currently underway for PFAS in the United States.
How can the price of water in your community be changed to promote water conservation? How can municipalities price water to keep basic needs and services affordable for all residents while promoting reduced use? And what are the long-term benefits for the municipality?
What is conservation pricing?
Conservation pricing is water rate structures that motivate consumers to use water efficiently. These structures come in many forms, such as uniform rates, tiered rates, seasonal rates, and water budget-based rates. For all of these rate structures, wasteful or inefficient water use is more costly for customers than using only what they really need for drinking, cooking, sanitation, and cleaning.
Significant portions of the Chicago region – especially those dependent upon groundwater sources -- are encountering water supply and quality issues. The region’s comprehensive plan, ON TO 2050, anticipates these issues will grow unless additional steps are taken to coordinate and conserve the region’s shared water supply resources. The recently updated regional water demand forecast revealed that while overall water use is stable, projected demand will exceed available groundwater supplies in some areas. Yet with additional conservation and efficiency measures, the region can maintain its long-term drinking water supplies.
The latest updates page features posts about issues affecting NWPA member communities and best practices, drawing on interviews and conversations with experts.