July 2015 Issue 13
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Picture of the Month


Devin Mannix and Daniel Abrams with the Illinois State Water Survey explained the above images (click to expand) to the Technical Advisory Committee and Executive Committee at the June 23rd and July 9th meetings, respectively. The first image shows today's levels of groundwater desaturation; the second, a simulated guess at what groundwater desaturation will look like by 2050.

The zones of desaturation are expected to expand by 2050, a result of every surrounding community's use of groundwater. A comprehensive approach to groundwater management is therefore critical to addressing water quality and quantity issues.

 

Events

7/25 Little Calumet Paddle

8/6 Meter Symposium (DuPage City)

8/6 The New Water Smart Grid – Intelligent Meters, Big Data & Managing Both

8/11 Water Main Rehabilitation Alternatives, Decisions, and Design (Westmont)

8/13 Water Operator Exam Refresher for Class C&D (Elgin)

8/20 Distribution System O&M – Hydrants, Valves, Water Services Lines (Morris)

8/20 Water Loss Audit Seminar (Robbins)

Executive Committee Members


Executive Committee Chairman
Thomas Weisner
City of Aurora, Mayor
(Metro West COG)

Vice-Chair
Mary McCann
McHenry County Board Member
(McHenry County)

Secretary
OPEN

Treasurer
Ruth Anne Tobias
DeKalb County Board Member
(DeKalb County)

Dale Berman
Village of North Aurora, President
(Metro West COG)

Paula McCombie
Village of South Barrington, President
(Barrington Area COG)

Nick Sauer
Lake County Board Member
(Lake County)

Terry Counley
Village of McCullom Lake, President
(McHenry County COG)

Karen Darch
Village of Barrington, President
(Northwest Municipal Conference)

Joseph Haimann
Kane County Board Member
(Kane County alternate)

David Kaptain
City of Elign, Mayor
(Metro West COG)

John Purcell
Kendall County Board Member
(Kendall County alternate)

Carolyn Schofield
McHenry County Board Member
(McHenry County alternate)

John Shaw
Kendall Count Board Chairman
(Kendall County)

Robert Nunamaker
Village of Fox River Grove, President
(McHenry County COG)

Technical Advisory Committee Chairman:
Peter Wallers, P.E., CFM
Engineering Enterprises, Inc., President
Metro West COG Consulting Engineer
pwallers@eeiweb.com
(630) 466-6721
I participated, recently, in a panel discussion at a conference held by an organization called E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).  E2 works to integrate sustainable practices with successful business enterprise.

The name of the session in which I participated was entitled “The Business Need for Clean and Reliable Water.”  The central theme of the panel discussion was that sustainable water policy supports economic  development, attracting and retaining businesses in the community, while unsustainable practices can not only “dry up” the well, but also economic development, itself.

Any smart business is going to seek out a community where its needs are assured of being met, both in the present and in the future.  For many industries, a reliable source of water is critical.

Unfortunately, the ISWS (Illinois State Water Survey) is finding a dangerous increase in the tapping of deep aquifers by some local communities, despite the availability of Lake Michigan water or water from nearby rivers.  The increasing dependence on deep aquifers in growth areas threatens the promise of a reliable water supply for not only local residents, but also for business users, many of whom may have their own wells.

As wasteful municipalities continue to draw down heavily on deep aquifers, they not only reduce their own supplies much faster than necessary, they may also dry up the wells of private industries that provide jobs and pay taxes in the community.  Even worse, an irresponsible community may cause the drying up of industrial wells in a next-door community, impacting the economy of a neighbor.
A healthy deep aquifer can also serve as a dependable reserve source of water in the case of a drought, giving businesses confidence that their operations could continue, uninterrupted.  On the other hand, overuse of the deep aquifer can undermine its viability as a dependable source in the case of a drought. 

It should be abundantly clear, then, that progressive water policies promote economic development, while wasteful policies may, in fact, discourage economic development. 
 

News

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) had its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Present representatives discussed the swollen state of the Fox River. Water quality was reportedly very clean and the river was flowing quickly following a rainy June.

Devin Mannix, Illinois State Water Survey, gave a presentation on cross-connected wells in northeast Illinois and projected groundwater levels. Devin mentioned that declining groundwater levels throughout NWPA communities is a growing problem that is only projected to get worse. NWPA TAC members brought up the idea of engaging the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which reviews new well permits, in a discussion about groundwater depletion. 
 

Progress Report


Rainy June: Why Water Conservation is Still Relevant when it Rains


Despite the drought in California, the entire United States is setting rainfall quantity records this year. This past May, the total precipitation in the United States made it the wettest May in 121 years, with the most rain occurring in Texas and Oklahoma.

Northeast Illinois has seen impressive rainfall numbers as well, especially during June. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, areas near Aurora saw as much as 9.74 inches of rain from May 25th to June 25th compared to an average June precipitation for this area of 3.9 inches. This makes June 2015 the fifth wettest June on record for Illinois. As a result, Illinois was the wettest state in the continental U.S. last month, pictured below.


With an abundance of rainfall, conserving water seems redundant. The Fox River is bloated, lawns are saturated with water, and plants are flourishing. However, use of potable water is still important to keep top-of-mind.

Heavy rainfall in NWPA communities is the perfect time to conserve water resources—outdoor watering is no longer necessary. For example, watering a lawn during a month of intense rainfall puts a stress on municipal water resources and does no service to the lawn. Yet, many municipalities and community residents can be found watering plants and lawns during rainy months.

Richard Hentschel, a Horticulture Educator and turfgrass specialist with the University of Illinois Extension in DuPage, Kane, and Kendall Counties, explains that we still need to maintain water conservation practices during rainy days. “We are all about recharging the subsoil… Just because you can water Monday, Wednesday, Friday doesn’t mean you should.” When we don’t have record rainfall, he suggests watering deeply and infrequently. Thoughtful watering practices promote deep root growth and help to absorb more rainwater in soil. Water on rising temperatures (in the morning, before the hottest time of the day) and direct water at the base of your plant to avoid water loss from evaporation.

Elected officials should take the time during these rainy days to remind residents to keep up with water conservation practices and not to water lawns unnecessarily. Encourage the purchase and use of rain barrels. Communicate the long-term goal of water security, which will be more difficult to achieve during the dry months later this summer. They’re coming.
 

Resources

Running lawn sprinklers during rainy months wastes both water and monetary resources. In addition, excessive levels of soil moisture inhibit plant growth and contribute to plant and soil pathogen development.

Prevent wasteful water use by installing “smart” timer-based irrigation controllers, such as the SMRT-Y Soil Moisture Sensor Kit. Easily connect these devices to any standard automated irrigation system and program the controller to water according to lawn watering requirements. It works by collecting data every ten minutes on, e.g., moisture content, electrical conductivity, and soil temperature and tracking this data over time.

Moisture sensors optimize moisture at the root level and prevent overwatering. During rainy days, the moisture sensor will ensure that sprinklers do not run. This handy tool will typically save over 40% of water, paying for itself in less than a year. These devices take away the need to manually adjust irrigation controllers. Similar devices are already required in states like California and Florida.
 

Mission

The Northwest Water Planning Alliance (NWPA), formed by intergovernmental agreements, seeks to collaboratively plan for and steward our shared river and groundwater resources to ensure a sustainable water supply for the people, economy, environment, and future generations.

For more information or to contribute to the newsletter, contact Bridget Hardy.
Copyright © 2015 Northwest Water Planning Alliance, All rights reserved.


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