May brings four opportunities to learn about proposed changes to Lake Michigan permitting, water loss and resource management

Northeastern Illinois is losing Lake Michigan water, but how much? The “best” available information we have suggests we lose approximately 26 billion gallons of Lake Michigan each year (that’s over one Willis Tower full of water each week) due to leaking infrastructure and poor policies – much of it after being treated to safe drinking water standards at a substantial cost to rate payers. Unfortunately, however, there are significant deficiencies in how we collect that information. Currently, Lake Michigan water users annually report water loss through an outdated accounting system that ignores important information such as infrastructure repairs. These reports do not accurately capture the amount of real water loss, nor do they identify the causes of loss and solutions to prevent it.

That’s why the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is proposing changes to the Lake Michigan Water Allocation program. The changes, many of which MPC calls for in our forthcoming white paper, Immeasurable Loss: Modernizing Lake Michigan Water Use, will improve the information collected about actual water loss and inform policies that require water users to invest in both modern infrastructure and modern water practices. The result? Preserving our precious water supply.

There are several opportunities this May for you to learn more about these proposed changes, ask questions and to share your feedback.

On May 7, MPC will host a roundtable to release our paper Immeasurable Loss: Modernizing Lake Michigan Water Use, which supports IDNR’s proposals and makes further recommendations for more efficient water use. The event will provide up-to-date information on IDNR’s proposals and an opportunity for frank discussion. IDNR’s Chief of the Lake Michigan Management Section, Dan Injerd, will present along with representatives of two Lake Michigan permittees (Village of Westmont Public Works Supervisor Mike Ramsay and Illinois American Water’s Sr. Manager of Field Services Michael Smyth). MPC’s Josh Ellis, program director, will present and moderate the panel.

Next up, IDNR welcomes comments on the proposed rule changes at three public meetings held throughout the region or by email. Public comments are an important part of the rulemaking process, and IDNR encourages you to attend one of the following:

May 14th, 9:30am – Noon

DuPage Water Commission Headquarters

600 East Butterfield Road

Elmhurst, IL  60126

May 15th, 9:30am – Noon

South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association

1904 West 174th St.

East Hazel Crest, IL  60429

May 22nd, 9:30am – Noon

Lake County Central Permit Facility

500 W. Winchester Road

Libertyville, IL  60048

At these meetings, Illinois EPA and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning will also discuss low interest loan programs for water infrastructure repairs and constraints regarding water loss control. Attendees are asked to RSVP to Gina.Thompson@illinois.gov with your choice of location by May 8th and to bring a photo ID to attend the meetings.

We all have a stake in promoting efficient use of Lake Michigan and in strengthening our region’s resiliency. We invite you to learn more – and lend your voice – at these MPC events and IDNR’s public meetings.

For more information about MPC roundtables and to register online, please see http://metroplanning.org/news-events/calendar/.

For more information about IDNR’s proposed rule changes, please see http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/WaterResources/Pages/LakeMichiganWaterAllocation.aspx.

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