|Can Illinois Provide Adequate Supplies of Clean, Secure Water at Reasonable Cost?
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.
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.
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:
See More Information for further explanation on some of these issues.
- 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
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.