Illinois Water Supply Planning



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Can Illinois Provide Adequate Supplies of Clean, Secure Water at Reasonable Cost?
 
Water treatment and storage facility
What options and opportunities exist for solving the state’s water-supply problems and meeting increasing future demand? Two general areas of action exist: better management of existing resources, and enhancement and growth of available supplies. Both solutions require careful planning.

A long-recognized means to increase supplies is through reuse of water. Post-treatment of water used for one purpose allows second and third cycles of usage for a given volume of water. Such reuse requires planning and coordination of treatment and downstream activities. Some Illinois locations already are reusing water. Another obvious action is to continue reducing pollution of streams and shallow aquifers, which requires careful monitoring of water quality, and incentives to minimize pollution. Considerable progress has been made, but there are even more opportunities.

Lake photo
A long-recognized water management tool to enhance supplies is increased water conservation. During droughts many Illinois communities apply temporary conservation by reducing waste and nonessential uses such as washing cars and watering lawns. More permanent conservation measures such as low water-use toilets, have not been widely adopted, however. Huge opportunities for conservation exist, and programs led by the state and its municipalities are needed so that people will embrace more permanent water conservation methods.

Water treatment and storage facility
Better water use data and planning certainly would help enhance supplies though wiser water management. The state needs more complete water data, particularly on water use. Development of comprehensive regional water plans would help address the issues of reuse, conservation, pollution reduction, and new water supplies. Dealing more effectively with droughts could come from development of better drought models and techniques for forecasting droughts months in advance.

Scientists at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) have performed considerable research on Illinois' water resources. Past research includes:

  • Mapping of potential new reservoirs
  • Identifying aquifers and their yields
  • Cloud seeding projects to increase growing-season rainfall
  • Experimenting with ways to suppress evaporation from lakes
  • Increasing groundwater recharge
  • Performing sedimentation surveys of water supply reservoirs
  • Examining methods of increasing surface water storage through dredging of accumulated sediment
  • Improving water quality through aeration
  • Tracking sources of sediment and nutrients
See More Information for further explanation on some of these issues.

Continued data collection and research is needed to develop new strategies and innovative approaches to assure a continuing, renewable supply of clean water into the future.

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