WBEZ | Chicago diversion http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-diversion Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A push to stop wasting Lake Michigan water http://www.wbez.org/news/push-stop-wasting-lake-michigan-water-107046 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Water loss_130507_LW.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has proposed an update to the rules for diverting water from Lake Michigan. Northeast Illinois takes hundreds of millions of gallons of water out of the lake daily for municipal use and for diversion into the Chicago area waterway system, but a great deal of the diverted water actually escapes through leaky pipes.</p><p>&ldquo;We waste a lot of money pumping, treating, distributing water that never gets sold,&rdquo; said Josh Ellis of the non-profit Metropolitan Planning Council.</p><p>Ellis estimates that as much as 70 million gallons a day are lost to leaks in aging infrastructure across the region. That&rsquo;s the equivalent of a Willis Tower full of water every few days, a loss that may not be sustainable as the regional population grows or new municipalities in northeast Illinois move to using Lake Michigan water.</p><p>&ldquo;The time to start thinking and figuring out what needs to be done is now,&rdquo; said Daniel Injerd, the chief of Lake Michigan management for IDNR. &ldquo;We need, as an agency, to try to send a stronger message to communities to say it&rsquo;s really time to start looking at water loss.&rdquo;</p><p>IDNR is in charge of the permits for all Illinois entities who get water out of Lake Michigan, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and for the first time since 1980, the agency is proposing a significant change to the permitting policy. Rather than allowing a certain amount of leakage based on the age of the pipes in a village, town, or city, the new permitting process would require municipalities to account for all their water -- or submit a detailed plan for how to update aging infrastructure. Injerd says more than half of the 215 agencies that now have water allocation permits would be in violation of the leakage limits under the new rule.</p><p>The revised water diversion rule also includes more strict limitations on sprinkler use and requirements for water-efficient plumbing in new construction. Finally, the proposed documents suggests, but does not require, that municipalities adjust the price of water to reflect the real cost of moving and treating water and of upgrading water infrastructure.</p><p>Ellis thinks the proposed changes should go even further.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now most water rate systems don&rsquo;t generate enough revenue to cover the full costs of providing water services,&rdquo; said Ellis. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re paying for the pipes, the pumps, the chemicals, the electricity...we feel that IDNR, through its permit conditions can prompt more municipalities to develop rate systems that generate enough revenue to pay for these things.&rdquo;</p><p>Short of raising prices or pulling from other revenue sources, right now municipalities have to seek out state loans to support infrastructure upgrades.</p><p>But Injerd says IDNR is not planning to impose requirements on water pricing.</p><p>&ldquo;Probably most of our permittees think that&rsquo;s not an area we need to delve into,&rdquo; said Injerd. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really not our role as a state agency to set water rates. But I have no problem recommending that communities develop a water rate that represents the true cost of providing a water supply.&rdquo;</p><p>A 1967 Supreme Court decision limited Illinois&rsquo; water diversion from the lake, and it&rsquo;s the role of the DNR to see that what the state pulls out doesn&rsquo;t exceed that limit. A full quarter of the water diverted by Illinois is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-announces-new-flood-control-project-some-say-plans-need-adapt-climate-change-106791" target="_blank">stormwater runoff</a> that would have been returned to Lake Michigan via the waterways before the Chicago River was engineered to flow out of the lake in 1900.</p><p>Public comment on the <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/WaterResources/Pages/LakeMichiganWaterAllocation.aspx" target="_blank">proposed water allocation rule change</a> is open through the end of May, and the Metropolitan Planning Council will be holding an <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/event/219" target="_blank">event Tuesday May 8</a> to discuss Lake Michigan water loss.</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants" target="_blank">@lewispants.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 07 May 2013 07:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/push-stop-wasting-lake-michigan-water-107046 Contributor content: Does Illinois catch a break? http://www.wbez.org/content/contributor-content-does-illinois-catch-break <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Chicago River.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><em>Editors note: This story first appeared in <a href="http://greatlakesecho.org">Great Lakes Echo</a>, a project of Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism</em></strong></p><p>Wisconsin and New York water users <a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/2011/06/17/new-york-approves-great-lakes-water-rules-wisconsin-up-next/">are crafting</a> water permitting rules. Lawmakers are <a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/2011/05/25/ohios-proposed-water-withdrawal-limits-worries-other-great-lakes-states/" target="_blank"><strong>begging for less</strong></a><strong><a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/2011/05/25/ohios-proposed-water-withdrawal-limits-worries-other-great-lakes-states/" target="_blank"> restrictive limits </a></strong>in Ohio.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-29/ChicagoRiver.jpg" style="width: 225px; height: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="The Chicago River used to flow into Lake Michigan at the intersection above. Now the river flows through a canal to the Mississippi River. This diversion is off the Great Lakes hook. Photo: dcwriterdawn (Flickr)">And Illinois? Well, in some ways it seems like that state is off the Great Lakes hook.</p><p>It has an exemption from parts of the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement between Great Lakes states to put limits on large-scale withdrawals and diversions of regional waters.</p><p>Here’s why: Illinois answers to a higher power —&nbsp;a series of Supreme Court decisions allowing the state to divert large quantities of Lake Michigan water. But the state still faces some hefty water restrictions.</p><p>In the early 1880s, Chicago ran into a sanitary snafu when its drinking water source became its sewage repository. The city reversed the flow of Chicago River and sent its sewage, along with some of Lake Michigan, south through a canal connected to the Mississippi River.</p><p>Surrounding states were not pleased —&nbsp;especially Missouri, which was getting the full brunt of Chicago’s foul assault. In the early 1920s, Wisconsin —&nbsp;later joined by Michigan and New York — sued, claiming that Chicago’s diversion lowered Lake Michigan by 6 inches.</p><div class="wp-caption alignleft" id="attachment_37961" style="width: 230px;"><br> <img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-29/Diversion_of_Chicago_Waterways.gif" style="width: 220px; height: 554px; float: left;" title="Flow of Chicago waterways before and after construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Maps: USGS"></div><p>In 1967, the U.S Supreme Court ruled that the diversion was necessary, but capped it at 3,200 cubic feet per second per day—&nbsp;its current level.</p><p>(More <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;ved=0CCwQFjAD&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.greatlakeslaw.org%2Ffiles%2FHall_Great_Lakes_Compact_Senate_Testimony.pdf&amp;rct=j&amp;q=great%20lakes%20compact%20environ%20law%20and%20poliy&amp;ei=zhIBTvp2qfDSAbGOwbEO&amp;usg=AFQjCNFlZlNYnQo94u15gMRKkejfuYZl5g&amp;sig2=u2tiSIcbm7Ovure34ESozw&amp;cad=rja" target="_blank"><strong>details</strong></a> provided by the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.)</p><p>Fast forward to 2008, when Great Lakes state governors agreed to prevent large-scale Great Lakes diversions and employ conservation measures.</p><p>Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation consenting to the compact with a couple of big catches: Illinois would not be subject to any part dealing with new or increased water withdrawals.</p><p>That’s arguably one of the most important compact provisions.</p><p>But Illinois can divert up to 3,200 cubic feet per second — or 2.1 billion gallons per day — of Lake Michigan water because of the 1967 Supreme Court decision.</p><p>Unlike other states, Illinois can’t request additional water diversions under the compact, said Dan Injerd, chief of Lake Michigan management at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.</p><p>“We can’t get two bites at the apple, just the one we’ve had all along,” he said.</p><p>Like the other states Illinois has to develop and implement water conservation and efficiency programs and establish a water use baseline.</p><p>The state’s Lake Michigan Water Allocation program, governed by a special state authority and specific rules, plays a large part in that effort.</p><p>“Yes, we’re exempt,” Injerd said. “But things like sharing water use information, having conservation and efficiency programs and all the cooperative things … we are obligated to do under the compact.”</p><p>Illinois is not required to establish a water use permitting system under the compact —&nbsp;<a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/2011/06/17/new-york-approves-great-lakes-water-rules-wisconsin-up-next/" target="_blank"><strong>which other states currently are doing</strong> </a>—&nbsp;but it already has one in place.</p><p>The state established the program after the 1967 Supreme Court decree. It permits water users who have gone through a long process involving public participation and monitoring of water consumption. That’s not unlike what the other states are setting up under the compact.</p><p>Is Illinois better off?</p><p>It may seem like it has more freedom to use Great Lakes waters than other states because of its exemption; they’re actually more restricted.</p><p>Bordering states are parties to the Supreme Court case and can request to reopen the case if Illinois isn’t keeping its end of the deal, Injerd said.</p><p>“What we do, how much water we divert, is always subject to review and analysis,” he said.</p><p>And most other Great Lakes states, with the exception of Minnesota and Pennsylvania, use much more lake water than Illinois, according to 2006 figures from the <a href="http://www.glc.org/wateruse/database/" target="_blank"><strong>Great Lakes Regional Water Use Database repository. </strong></a></p><div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_18842" style="width: 310px;"><a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Picture-111.png" rel="lightbox" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-29/map.png" style="width: 300px; height: 237px; float: left;" title="The 2008 Great Lakes Compact puts limits on water withdrawals outside of the watershed. Illinois has the least amount of Great Lakes watershed, but it’s exempt from compact provisions dealing with diversions. Map: GLIN"></a></div><p>By law, Illinois is capped at 2.1 billion gallons per day. In 2006, it tapped 1.98 billion gallons of Lake Michigan per day. Other Great Lakes states and provinces don’t have limits, and they used a combined 234.9 billon gallons of Great Lakes surface water per day, according to the database.<strong> </strong></p><p>In theory, Illinois could use more Great Lakes water if it were subject to the compact instead of the court decision, but since it has the least amount of watershed in the region, some of its straddling communities would have to apply for Lake Michigan water diversion exemptions. Others would have to find water elsewhere.</p><p>“Clearly we have substantial water use that occurs out of the original drainage basin in Illinois,” Injerd said.</p><p>The way it is now, all Lake Michigan water users must apply for permits, but it’s nothing like the lengthy exemption process —&nbsp;just ask <a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/2010/12/10/waukesha-water-war-key-for-great-lakes-diversion-policy/" target="_blank"><strong>Waukesha, Wis.</strong></a></p><p>In other Great Lakes states, there are no annual limits and new permitting procedures require only high-quantity users to seek state approval.</p><p>All Great Lakes states, including Illinois, are limited in regards to diversions. The compact curbs water diversions out of the watershed; bordering communities can apply for exceptions. Illinois state law prevents diversions out of the state.</p><p>The Great Lakes Compact certainly lets Illinois — or should I say Chicago — off the hook when it comes to water diversions. But since other states own more of the Great Lakes watershed and can access more water, they may have a sweeter deal.</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 12:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/contributor-content-does-illinois-catch-break