Report Warns of Water Shortage in Chicago Suburbs

Jan. 11, 2006

The Chicago Tribune reported that at least 11 townships in Chicago’s outer suburbs could run out of water supplies by 2020 due to expanding population and development, according to a report by the Campaign for Sensible Growth, the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Openlands Project.

The state continues to endure one of the most severe droughts in its history. Illinois sits on Lake Michigan and is considered a water-rich state, but federal regulations cap how much of the lake can be tapped.

In Chicago's expanding suburbs, there are potential water supply problems where the pipes linking to Lake Michigan end. Currently, Illinois uses close to 20 billion gal of water a day, and that number is expected to increase 28% over the next two decades as a result of population growth, development and increased consumption.

Communities, counties and private companies currently manage the water supply for their areas in what amounts to a fragmented, inconsistent and inefficient manner, according to the two-year report funded by the Joyce Foundation. The study urges the state to formulate a comprehensive strategy to better understand and maximize its water supply.

The state would have to spend about $5 million to start up a program to help local authorities devise more cooperative plans to manage water sources they often share already, Openlands Project deputy director Joyce O'Keefe estimated. "There is no stream that stops at the county border," she said.

Source: John Biemer, Chicago Tribune

Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).
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