January 2024 kicks off the second year of the NWPA's initiative to develop a water supply sustainability plan for the NWPA region. Over a century of water use from northern Illinois' deep sandstone aquifers has led to declining water levels, as more water has been withdrawn than naturally replaced. At the same time, road salt, PFAs, and other contaminants threaten the reliability of shallow groundwater and river water sources. Against this backdrop, the NWPA saw the need for a plan that could help NWPA communities extend the life of the region's water resources and provide sustainable water supplies for future generations.
With assistance from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and funding support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the NWPA embarked on a two-year process to create a water supply sustainability plan. Using the latest groundwater science to account for the current state of the region’s water supply, the plan will identify water conservation strategies that communities can voluntarily take to manage supply and work toward the long-term sustainable use of water resources in the NWPA area.
In 2023, CMAP and IISG worked with the NWPA Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Executive Committee to establish a plan vision, draft water sustainability goals, and prioritize several water conservation strategies for the plan’s consideration. The project team also began evaluating the potential water savings and implementation feasibility for some of the prioritized strategies, including residential retrofits and outdoor watering efficiencies.
With the plan’s completion scheduled for December 2024, the project team will continue to evaluate the remaining prioritized water conservation strategies and seek the NWPA’s input on which strategies to include in the plan. The remaining strategies will cover water supply systems, the commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sector, and information and education. The team will also conduct a combined impacts assessment to evaluate how the implementation of the full set of strategies could advance the NWPA’s vision and goals.
We urge members and other water utility experts to join this year’s NWPA TAC meetings to actively engage in the planning process. Meetings are on the 4th Thursday of every month. Sign up for the 2024 TAC meeting calendar here!
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