Central Illinois Cities Fight for Clean Water

On October 15, 2012, Champaign Mayor Don Gerard held a press conference to announce a coalition is planning to apply to the U.S. EPA for sole source designation for the Mahomet Aquifer. According to Layne Hydro, a water management consulting company hired by the coalition, the Aquifer meets the required criteria for the designation. The coalition, which includes the City of Champaign, City of Urbana, Village of Savoy, Town of Normal, and the University of Illinois, is taking this action as a way to emphasize to the U.S. EPA that the Aquifer is a vitally important source of water for central Illinois that needs to be protected for drinking water as well as commercial, industrial and agricultural uses. Mayor Gerard said “We want to make sure the Aquifer is protected so that clean water is available for our children and grandchildren, and to support agriculture and industry.”

Mayor Gerard participated in the press conference with others that are supportive of applying for sole source designation including City of Urbana Mayor Prussing, and Al Wehrmann, a groundwater hydrologist and a project consultant from Layne Hydro as a technical advisor.

Recently the Clinton Landfill company has made a request to the U.S. EPA to allow disposal of industrial wastes containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its landfill site located directly over the Aquifer. PCBs are toxic organic compounds that are known carcinogens. “The impact of contamination on central Illinois would be huge as there is no alternative water source,” said Mayor Gerard. “Major employers including the University of Illinois, major medical centers such as Carle and Provena Covenant, Kraft Foods, and others depend on that source of water. The economic viability of the area would be at risk.” A sole source aquifer designation may impact the U.S. EPA’s decision on this issue, as well as requests to conduct other potentially environmentally hazardous activities over the Aquifer.

For more information please visit www.ci.champaign.il.us/aquifer.