|What Institutions are Involved with Water Supplies in Illinois?
Numerous institutions are involved in some facet of water supply. Most are government
entities, but some are private corporations. It is handy to think of them on geographical scales:
municipal, regional, state, interstate, and federal.
Municipalities, the smallest entities, have control over local water supplies and
waterworks. These either operate as local public agencies or as a corporation with which the
municipality contracts for water.
Regional water entities comprise the next spatial group. Illinois has five types: 1) regional
water commissions that serve two or more municipalities, 2) water service districts for
unincorporated areas, 3) public water districts, 4) water authorities that mix municipalities and
rural areas, and 5) river conservancy districts. The Rend Lake Conservancy District, formed in
1960. Is an example of the latter type. It led to the construction of Rend Lake in the 1960s and
subsequent development of an intercity water system that supplies water to six southern Illinois
The State of Illinois has several agencies that deal with water supplies. Primary, this is the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources which includes conservation endeavors, the four
Scientific Surveys (data collection and research), the Office of Mines and Minerals (water
quality), and the Office of Water Resources (surface water-related operations and development of
facilities). The Illinois Pollution Control Board, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency,
and Illinois Department of Public Health deal with water quality, and the
Illinois Department of Agriculture handles water supply and quality issues, including soil erosion
and conservation. Others entities dealing with water issues include the Illinois Commerce
Commission and several state universities. Interstate compacts comprise the next spatial level of
institutions. Illinois is a member of compacts with Missouri, Indiana, the Great Lakes states, and
Ohio River states, and these groups deal with regional water issues.
Federal agencies and the U.S. Supreme Court have the largest areas of authority relating
to water supplies. Six federal agencies have powers and activities affecting the water supply of
Illinois. These include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, and the departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban
Development. Many of these institutions interact directly with Illinois state agencies. The U.S.
Supreme Court makes decisions relating to use and allocation of water supplies.