WBEZ | water http://www.wbez.org/tags/water Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Have your say: Lake Michigan vs. Chicago River http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/have-your-say-lake-michigan-vs-chicago-river-109317 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/132056571&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note:&nbsp;</em><em>Reporter Chris Bentley provided question-asker Devon Neff and his friend, Abby Ristow, with some homework; the idea was that reporting and insightful interviews could settle the pair&#39;s high-minded water fight. In the <a href="https://soundcloud.com/curiouscity/smackdowns-lake-michigan?in=curiouscity/sets/curious-city-podcasts" target="_blank">&quot;Smackdowns&quot;</a> podcast episode, you can hear the friends&#39; final take. In most circumstances, Curious City encourages peace among our readers, but here we hope you&#39;ll keep the fight brewing by voting in our </em><em><a href="#Poll">poll</a>&nbsp;and encouraging others to do so. <a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1UXSprLzQKqkThqcCOCbjuCAtNzz8xCG6TdU0gjxuAyY/viewanalytics" target="_blank">Current results</a>&nbsp;</em><em>are available if you&#39;d like to remain a bystander!</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p><p>Like so many questions for the ages, this Curious City query started as a bar debate. Our questioner Devon Neff and his friend Abby Ristow wanted to know:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Which is more important to Chicago (historically and today): Lake Michigan or the Chicago River?</em></p><p>Even though they&rsquo;ve argued this since last April, the issue still isn&rsquo;t settled.</p><p>&ldquo;She took the river and I took the lake, and we were very adamant about our discussion at the time,&rdquo; Devon said. &ldquo;I just see the lake as being more of an asset to Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>His view of the lake from his apartment in downtown&rsquo;s<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/aqua-tower" target="_blank"> Aqua Tower</a> might be a factor in his opinion. Abby acknowledged the river&rsquo;s got a bit of a checkered past (<a href="http://www.chicagojournal.com/News/09-16-2009/There_are_still_bubbles" target="_blank">bubbly creek</a>, anyone?), but she said that isn&rsquo;t the whole story.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve used it so much that we&rsquo;ve almost gotten it to the point of ruin. But I think it&rsquo;s changing,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;For me it&rsquo;s changing, but I&rsquo;m always a cheerleader for the underdog.&rdquo;</p><p>Whenever possible, we at Curious City like to settle things, but it&rsquo;s hard to be definitive in this case. Our editor, Shawn Allee, has been pulling his hair out over how broad this question is. And Devon and Abby&rsquo;s seemingly ironclad positions changed throughout our initial interview.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m actually torn,&rdquo; Devon admitted as we wrapped up the discussion. &ldquo;The more and more I think about it, I&rsquo;m really not sure if I&rsquo;m for one or the other.&rdquo;</p><p>Abby chimed in with a similar equivocation: &ldquo;I think specific to Chicago the river has more of an impact. But the region? The lake.&rdquo;</p><p>Almost <a href="#Audio">everyone we talked to</a> &mdash; shipping people, environmentalists, kayakers, even Mayor Rahm Emanuel &mdash; was hard pressed to pick one over the other. Even those that were for the lake or the river usually added the caveat that we&rsquo;d be remiss to discount the other entirely.</p><p>&ldquo;It was the confluence between the river and the lake, and the connection we could make to the Mississippi River that was what was important,&rdquo; said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River.</p><p>So we&rsquo;re acknowledging right up front that the lake and the river work together, inextricably. Still, we need an answer.</p><p>So, what to do? Well, we&rsquo;re going to let you settle this one &mdash; with some help. We&rsquo;ve gathered facts on the waterways&rsquo; relative importance to our city and region below, as well as words of wisdom from a few people who work with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/lake-michigan" target="_blank">Lake Michigan</a> and the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-river" target="_blank">Chicago River</a>.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s how you can help:</p><ul><li><p>Read and listen to the evidence: <a href="#Water">Water</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#Shipping">Shipping</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#Pop">Pop culture and symbolism</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#Recreation">Recreation</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#Natural">Natural resources investment</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#Infrastructure">Infrastructure investment</a>. (For folks who love audio homework, we have <a href="#Audio">interviews with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others</a>)&nbsp;</p></li><li><p>Participate in <a href="#Poll">our poll</a>!</p></li><li><p>Call our hotline: 1-888-789-7752. (Leave concise comments, please. Who wins: The lake? The river? Why?)</p></li><li><p>Leave a comment at the bottom of this page.</p></li></ul><p><a name="Water"><strong>Water &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</strong></a></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LAKE%20FINAL.png" style="float: left; margin: 5px; width: 50px; height: 50px;" title="" />Before we dive in too deep, the lake has one very big thing going for it; namely, it&rsquo;s the region&rsquo;s principal source of drinking water. More than 26 million people drink from the Great Lakes, including residents in Chicago and many of its suburbs.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/river%202.png" style="float: left; margin: 5px; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />But the river has also served an important purpose: In addition to connecting Lake Michigan to inland waterways, it&rsquo;s long served <a href="http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/episode-86-reversal-of-fortune/" target="_blank">as an engineered extension of the city&#39;s sewer system</a>. Its<a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-12/un-reversing-chicago-river-88976" target="_blank"> famous reversal in the 19th century</a> enabled the continued growth of a metropolis on the make that might otherwise have choked on its own waste. (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/jeanne-gang-and-henry-henderson-conversation-steve-edwards-94213" target="_blank">There&#39;s talk now of re-reversing the river</a>, which some say could spur another revitalization.)</p><p>So both serve a vital function to the city&rsquo;s daily life.</p><p><a name="Shipping"><strong>Shipping</strong></a></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/river 2.png" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />&ldquo;I would answer that from a broad and multi-state/national perspective, there is no doubt that the Lake itself is far more significant,&rdquo; said Stuart Theis, executive director of The United States Great Lakes Shipping Association. &ldquo;That said, certainly [the Chicago River] has much to do with commercial activity which takes place in Lake Michigan and in particular, Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago River<a href="http://www.navigationdatacenter.us/wcsc/webpub11/Part3_WWYs_tonsbycommCY2011.HTM" target="_blank"> saw more than 2 million short tons of cargo in 2011</a>, the last year for which data is available. Chicago is only the 34th most trafficked port in the country based on total cargo, but it is the second most popular in the Great Lakes (Duluth-Superior on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border is 21st in the country, with 35 million tons in 2011 compared to Chicago&rsquo;s 20 million). A lot of the bulk freight traffic at Chicago&rsquo;s port actually moves between the city and inland ports, staying out of the Great Lakes entirely. In 2011 Chicago handled about five times as much domestic freight as foreign.</p><p>But with highways, railroads and two major airports nearby, the port of Chicago could support more waterborne movement of cargo. In July Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2013/july_2013/mayor_emanuel_governorquinnannouncenewportauthoritymanagmentplan.html" target="_blank"> announced plans</a> to spend $500 million updating the Port District over the next 10 years.</p><p>The connection between the river and the lake is still critical for shipping. Hear more from Delbert &quot;Del&quot; Wilkins, president of Illinois Marine Towing, Inc. in Lemont, Ill:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123118317&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="350"></iframe></p><p><a name="Pop"><strong>Pop culture and symbolism</strong></a></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/river%202.png" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />The river is on <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d2/Chicago-muni-flag.png" target="_blank">Chicago&rsquo;s flag</a>, in the form of two horizontal blue stripes. It&rsquo;s also the inspiration for<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-municipal-device-citys-symbol-lurking-plain-sight-107637" target="_blank"> the Y-shaped &ldquo;municipal device&rdquo; found throughout the city</a>, including on the Chicago Theater marquee and inside the Cultural Center.</p><p>Hollywood also loves the river. Of course, the Blues Brothers <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTOg4aYGtdY" target="_blank">jumped the Chicago River</a>. And in <em>The Hunter (1980)</em>, actor Steve McQueen&rsquo;s last flick,a driver<a href="http://www.marinacityonline.com/history/you_parked.htm" target="_blank"> famously flung a green Grand Prix Pontiac off the 17th floor of Marina City</a>, plunging it into the water.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JFEELqtNzGE" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Director Andrew Davis featured the river in <em>The Fugitive</em> as well as other films. He waxed poetic about this for the documentary <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0252319/" target="_blank">Chicago Filmmakers on the Chicago River</a></em>. &ldquo;Almost every movie I&rsquo;ve done has shown some part of this river just because it is a vein of life in the city,&rdquo; Davis told documentarian D.P. Carlson. &ldquo;I think that showing the bridges, and the roads, the major roadways and the river is part of the blood of the city. It makes the city tick.&rdquo;</p><p>That visual fascination doesn&rsquo;t end with the pros. The tag &ldquo;Chicago River&rdquo; on the photo sharing site Flickr<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/chicagoriver/" target="_blank"> returns nearly 34,000 results</a>. &nbsp;&ldquo;Lake Michigan&rdquo; turned up more than 256,000, but that isn&rsquo;t specific to Chicago. &ldquo;Chicago Lakefront&rdquo; produced 2,269 uploads. But maybe people are using different tags (and just &ldquo;lakefront&rdquo; is too generic).</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LAKE%20FINAL.png" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />Skyline shots often include the lake &mdash; say, from the popular photo spot in front of the Adler Planetarium &mdash; and Navy Pier, the state&rsquo;s biggest tourist attraction, is obviously lake-centric. The river does host the very popular architecture boat tours, though.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a name="Recreation"><strong>Recreation</strong></a></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LAKE%20FINAL.png" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />Biking and jogging<a href="http://www.choosechicago.com/articles/view/The-Lakefront-Trail/454/" target="_blank"> along the 18-mile lakefront trail</a> is one of the more popular activities for tourists and locals alike, at least when the weather&rsquo;s nice. Beaches along Chicago&rsquo;s<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-has-chicago%E2%80%99s-coastline-changed-over-decades-104328" target="_blank"> &quot;forever open, clear and free&quot; shoreline</a> are packed during the warm months, a unique condition Joel Brammeier, president of Alliance for the Great Lakes, pointed out while singing the lakefront&rsquo;s praise.</p><p>Brammeier said the open lakefront is &ldquo;the envy of communities around the world.&rdquo; But it only got that way because of a series of careful decisions:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123118170&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="350"></iframe>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/river%202.png" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />A lot of people still cringe at the thought of Chicago River water, but its quality has improved dramatically in recent decades. Since the Clean Water Act of 1972,<a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2009/08/the-chicago-river-is-too-dirty-to-be-useable/" target="_blank"> the number of fish species in the river has gone from 10 to 70</a>.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/feds-okay-chicago-river-cleanup-93801" target="_blank">Environmental Protection Agency approved Illinois&#39; new water quality standards</a> for the river recently, requiring the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to start disinfecting the waste it pumps into the sanitary canal.<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-03-21/can-cultural-resources-help-spur-different-future-chicago-river-97515" target="_blank"> The river should even be clean enough to swim in by 2016</a>!</p><p>Our question asker Abby Ristow has kayaked a few times, but I asked Ryan Chew, who founded Chicago River Canoe &amp; Kayak in 2001, how recreation along the river has changed since then. He said it&rsquo;s up dramatically, and he thinks that&rsquo;s because the river provides an unexpected connection to nature in the middle of the city:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123118169&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="350"></iframe></p><p>Margaret Frisbie from Friends of the Chicago River made a similar point about seeing the city from the lake and from the river. She admitted the view from the lake captures Chicago&rsquo;s grandeur. But she says the river provides something different and, perhaps, more valuable:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123118321&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="350"></iframe></p><p><a name="Natural"><strong>Natural resources investments</strong></a></p><p>Recently, several groups have called attention to the economic benefits of investing in both natural resources.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/report-drop-money-river-watch-it-float-back-107107" target="_blank">A report commissioned by Friends of the Chicago River and Openlands said each dollar invested in the river provides a 70 percent return</a>.</p><p>Likewise <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2007/09/04gleiecosystem-austin" target="_blank">a Brookings Institution analysis</a> said fully implementing the Great Lakes restoration strategy, which includes cleaning up pollution and preserving fisheries, would generate tens of billions of dollars in economic activity.</p><p>Even though he picked the lake, Henry Henderson of the Natural Resources Defense Council points out its value to the city is only guaranteed through constant and long-term investment &mdash; the kind he hopes the city will make in the river, too:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123134710&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="350"></iframe></p><p><a name="Infrastructure"><strong>Infrastructure investments</strong></a></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LAKE%20FINAL.png" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />Plenty has happened along the lakefront. The 31st Street Harbor<a href="http://www.wbez.org/chicago-unveils-new-south-side-boat-harbor-99912" target="_blank"> opened in 2012</a>, and<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-30/morning-shift-revamping-lake-shore-drive-108220" target="_blank"> plans to revamp Lake Shore Drive</a> could include more park space, as well as additional routes for bicyclists. Some 600 lakefront acres formerly home to U.S. Steel&rsquo;s South Works plant could become a futuristic community that developers<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/lakeside-development" target="_blank"> U.S. Steel and McCaffery Interests have dubbed Lakeside</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/river%202.png" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 50px; width: 50px;" title="" />But there&rsquo;s obviously a lot going on with the river these days, too, and even Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the river&rsquo;s catching up. He has<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2012/october_2012/mayor_emanuel_announcesplanstocompletechicagoriverwalk.html" target="_blank"> called the river</a> &ldquo;our second shoreline,&rdquo; and plans to continue an ongoing shift from industrial land use to recreation along the river:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123118170&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="350"></iframe></p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s much-touted plan to extend the riverwalk downtown is the clear centerpiece: between State and Lake Streets, six themed areas like<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdot/bridge/general/TheMarina.pdf" target="_blank"> The Marina</a> and<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdot/bridge/general/TheRiverTheater.pdf" target="_blank"> The River Theater</a> are meant to attract businesses and pedestrians and give the riverfront a sense of place all its own. Construction on that could<a href="http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/72708" target="_blank"> start soon</a>.</p><p>Three private developments where the main branch splits &mdash; Wolf Point, River Point, and 150 N. Riverside &mdash; all include landscaped parks at their bases, celebrating to varying extents their place along the Chicago River.<a name="Poll"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="450" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1UXSprLzQKqkThqcCOCbjuCAtNzz8xCG6TdU0gjxuAyY/viewform?embedded=true" width="620">Loading...</iframe>;</p><hr /><br /><h2><a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1UXSprLzQKqkThqcCOCbjuCAtNzz8xCG6TdU0gjxuAyY/viewanalytics" target="_blank">Selected poll results</a></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdEJQX25aMFUtdWpPcjE3OU1rUXJXNWc&transpose=0&headers=0&range=B1%3AC101&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"title":"Left vertical axis title","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"title":"Chart title","booleanRole":"certainty","height":320,"animation":{"duration":500},"page":"enable","width":620,"pageSize":5,"annotations":{"domain":{"style":"line"}},"hAxis":{"title":"Horizontal axis title","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[0,{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":1}]},"isDefaultVisualization":false,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a name="Audio"></a><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/16414907&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><br /><em>Chris Bentley is a reporter for Curious City. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley"> @cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/have-your-say-lake-michigan-vs-chicago-river-109317 Morning Shift: Medical marijauna 101 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-05/morning-shift-medical-marijauna-101-108283 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Marijuana 2-Flickr- it was 3 a.m.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we school you on the ins and outs of Illinois&#39; new medical marijuana law. Still confused on what it entails? Call us with your questions. And &quot;Deal Estate&quot; columnist Dennis Rodkin breaks down the boom in Chicago&#39;s hotel industry.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-35.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-35" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Medical marijauna 101" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Mon, 05 Aug 2013 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-05/morning-shift-medical-marijauna-101-108283 Deep cuts proposed to funding for Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/news/deep-cuts-proposed-funding-great-lakes-108157 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Great Lakes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A U.S. house subcommittee proposed a bill that would reduce the <a href="http://greatlakesrestoration.us/">Great Lakes Restoration Initiative</a> budget from $285 million dollars to just $60 million, a nearly 80% cut.</p><p>&ldquo;When we first saw these numbers I could surmise that somebody miscounted and thought there was just one Great Lake,&rdquo; said Todd Ambs, the campaign director for the <a href="http://healthylakes.org/about/">Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.</a></p><p>Since 2009, the initiative has tackled some of the Great Lakes&rsquo; biggest ecological problems, including <a href="http://greatlakesrestoration.us/projects/index.html">invasive species, runoff, and contamination.</a> Many proponents say the initiative will become even more important with climate change, which will have a drastic impact on the lakes.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got these toxic hot spots that need to be cleaned up. And if we don&rsquo;t do it now it&rsquo;s just going to cost more in the future&rdquo; said Ambs.</p><p>The Great Lakes funding was not alone in the potentially drastic <a href="http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-113hr-sc-ap-fy2014-interior-subcommitteedraft.pdf">cutbacks.</a> The bill proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency&#39;s budget by over 30% and the National Endowment for the Arts&rsquo; budget by nearly 50%.</p><p>Sub-committee representatives said the bill made the hard choice of cutting &ldquo;<a href="http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=343384">nice to have&rdquo; programs, in order to save &ldquo;need to have&rdquo; programs.</a> But Joel Brammeier, president of the <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>, said that even in this tough budget year, programs like the Great Lakes Initiative are singled out for disproportionate cuts. &nbsp;&quot;Cuts of this magnitude would bring Great Lakes programs to a halt,&quot; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">The bill is unlikely to be discussed by the full house until this fall, at which point it could be drastically revised during continuous budget negotiations in both the House and Senate. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan reports for WBEZ. You can follow her<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h"> @shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 16:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/deep-cuts-proposed-funding-great-lakes-108157 Behind the fracking boom, a sand mining rush http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/behind-fracking-boom-sand-mining-rush-108078 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/for cover.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a name="#starved"></a><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F101336097&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F101360760&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Sand mining is a largely-overlooked side effect of the fracking boom. &ldquo;Frac sand&rdquo; refers to the fine, white silica or quartz sand that is in high demand for use in hydraulic fracturing. The fracking process involves drilling a well thousands of feet underground, cracking open the shale rock, and shooting a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into the miniscule cracks to force out natural gas. The sand serves as a &ldquo;proppant&rdquo; to hold open the cracks in the rock.</p><p>Most of that sand comes from regions where fracking itself is not taking place. LaSalle County, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago, has historically been the silica mining capital of the country. Now with the fracking process coming to some of Illinois&rsquo; downstate communities, the frac sand issue is grabbing a little more attention, although, as of yet, the downstate prospecting for natural gas wells has little effect on the sand mining industry in the northern part of the state.&nbsp;<strong>Listen in on the controversy over a proposed mine adjacent to Starved Rock State Park </strong><strong><a href="##starved">(above)</a></strong>. And then read on for some key facts about mining for frac sand.</p><p>While reporting this story, WBEZ also came across a case of severe and dangerous water contamination next to a frac sand mine in LaSalle County. While&nbsp;<strong>the problems with the water in Wedron remain an unsolved mystery <a href="##starved">(listen above)</a></strong>, check below for what we do know about Wedron.</p><h2><u><strong>Key Facts About Frac Sand Mining in Illinois</strong></u></h2><p dir="ltr"><strong>Frac sand is not just for fracking.</strong>&nbsp;The sand that most companies want to use as a proppant in fracking fluid is the purest possible silica, or quartz, in a round and even grain size. The silica found in the midwest, in what&rsquo;s called the St. Peter sandstone formation, is perfect for the companies&rsquo; purposes&mdash;and it&rsquo;s also the sand that forms the majestic bluffs at Illinois&rsquo; Starved Rock State Park. This same sand has long been mined for commercial and industrial uses like sandboxes and glass. It&rsquo;s particularly advantageous for mining operations to find areas where silica is close to the surface.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Sand mining has been going on in Illinois since at least the 1860s.&nbsp;</strong>A mine belonging to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ussilica.com/locations/ottawa-il" target="_blank">U.S. Silica,</a>&nbsp;the largest sand mining company in the country, has been located in Ottawa, Illinois since the 1860s.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>There are five silica sand mines in Illinois,</strong>&nbsp;four of them in LaSalle County. Three new mines have been proposed and permitted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) but they are not currently operating. Over the last five years, U.S. Silica, Unimin and Fairmount Minerals, companies with long-standing mines in LaSalle County, have all increased production and opened new facilities in other states.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Illinois is historically the silica sand capital of the country.&nbsp;</strong>In 2012, the state was second behind Texas in production of silica sand. Wisconsin is a close third: the number of sand mines in Wisconsin more than&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2011/07/31/sand-mining-surges-in-wisconsin/" target="_blank">doubled from 2010-2011</a>&nbsp;and has been growing since, although in 2012&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2012/10/25/updated-map-frac-sand-rush-slowing/" target="_blank">the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reported the rush to get new mining permits was slowing</a>. Many of the more than 100 Wisconsin mines have a far lower production capacity than Illinois&rsquo; well-established mines.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Demand has skyrocketed.</strong>&nbsp;The demand for silica sand suddenly shot through the roof with the growth of the fracking industry in the late 2000s. In 2011, U.S. silica consumption was over 26 million tons; in 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey reported it had nearly doubled to over 45 million tons. Prices spiked for a couple years, although now companies in Illinois and Wisconsin report the pricing has leveled out as supply begins to meet demand. The owner of Mississippi Sand, LLC says his sand will sell for $100-$150 per ton, including transportation.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Protections for workers have improved.</strong>&nbsp;Breathing in the fine particulate matter from silica mining&nbsp;<a href="https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/crystalline-factsheet.pdf" target="_blank">can cause silicosis and other lung diseases</a>. But in contrast to the first hundred years of mining for silica sand, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now requires protections for workers such as wearing face masks. Still, many mines have been found in violation of federal and state standards, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5416a2.htm" target="_blank">a federal study</a>&nbsp;reported 148 deaths from silicosis in 2002.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Air pollution from dust is a risk of silica mines.&nbsp;</strong>The federal EPA doesn&rsquo;t regulate airborne silica, but states may require air quality monitoring around mines. The proposed Mississippi Sand mine next to Starved Rock State Park will have to get an Illinois EPA air quality permit in order to start mining.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Most mines use a lot of water.</strong>&nbsp;Silica sand mining operations use water to wash sand, and they may also use water to keep down dust on windy days. In addition, many surface mining operations dig down into aquifers, which means some mines pump out water to the tune of millions of gallons per day in order to reach the desired sand.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Silica mining can contaminate waterways.</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://stopthestarvedrocksandmine.wordpress.com/talking-points/" target="_blank">Environmentalists say water containing silica sediment may silt up streams and harm wildlife.</a>&nbsp;Water quality around sand mines is regulated by states, and in Illinois, surface mines are required to get a water discharge permit for operation. The proposed mine next to Starved Rock State Park has a permit to discharge over five million gallons of water per day into a nearby creek, and an average of 1.4 million gallons per day. The mine will be required to submit monthly water quality reports. In Wisconsin,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2013/03/03/frac-sand-dnr-violations/" target="_blank">a recent report</a>&nbsp;found many mines violated water quality standards in 2012. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Mining can lower the water table and disturb wetlands.</strong>&nbsp;Because some sand mines reach below the water table, mining operations may involve pumping water out of the ground. These operations are known to alter water levels in certain areas, including at a sand mine in Wedron, Illinois that is now&nbsp;under investigation for its connection to groundwater contamination.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Sand is shipped out by train, barge and truck.</strong>&nbsp;The owner of Mississippi Sand, Tony Giordano, says about 100 trucks a day will leave the mine near Starved Rock once it is in full operation. Each truck carries about 25 tons of sand to a nearby train or barge terminal for long-distance shipping. In the case of Mississippi Sand, almost all the silica sand will be headed for fracking operations in other states.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Mining in Illinois is regulated by the state, counties and cities.</strong>&nbsp;There are no federal environmental standards related specifically to silica, so the environmental effects of silica mining are monitored at a state level. In Illinois, cities and counties with zoning laws can control permits for proposed mines, but may not have the authority to impose taxes or control environmental practices or traffic.</p><p><strong>A proposed mine next to Starved Rock State Park has been approved.&nbsp;</strong>The mine belonging to Mississippi Sand that would be adjacent to Starved Rock received a special use permit from LaSalle County in 2012, and it was also permitted by the IDNR and the Illinois EPA. Coincidentally, the IDNR also manages the state park that activists contend will be at risk. The IDNR said in a written statement to WBEZ, &ldquo;During the review process, the IDNR examined potential impacts to threatened and endangered species in the area and made recommendations to the county board based upon that analysis...Since then, the mining company has provided and satisfied all information requirements provided by law and thus, IDNR approved its permit to the company.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The mine next to Starved Rock is not yet under construction.&nbsp;</strong>In December 2012, the Sierra Club, Openlands, and the Prairie Rivers Network filed a lawsuit against the IDNR and Mississippi Sand, contending that the permit fails to comply with state law protecting wetlands and wildlife. Mississippi Sand owner Tony Giordano said in July 2013 that he can&rsquo;t say when operations will begin at the mine, but he believes the permitting process is proof that the mine is neither unique nor hazardous to the area.&nbsp;<strong><a href="##starved">Listen to the whole story.</a></strong></p><h2><u><strong>Key facts about the water contamination case in Wedron, Illinois</strong></u></h2><p dir="ltr"><strong>Wedron is home to one of the largest sand mines in the country.</strong>&nbsp;Wedron Silica, now owned by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fairmountminerals.com/Fairmount-Corporate/About-Fairmount/History.aspx" target="_blank">Fairmount Minerals</a>, was established in the area 125 years ago and has expanded to become one of the largest sand mines in the county, now employing over 200 people. Fairmount also operates mines in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Ontario.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>There is benzene in the groundwater supply.</strong>&nbsp;Benzene is commonly found in gasoline and petroleum along with toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, all of which have shown up in groundwater and well water tests in Wedron.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxguides/toxguide-3.pdf" target="_blank">Benzene is carcinogenic</a>&nbsp;and the&nbsp;<a href="http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/benzene.cfm#four" target="_blank">US EPA drinking water standard</a>&nbsp;for enforcement is five parts per billion (ppb). The recommended standard is zero. Wells in Wedron have tested at up to 2400 ppb for benzene. It may also be absorbed through the air; as of July, 2013, the EPA was awaiting test results regarding benzene vapors in Wedron.&nbsp;<strong>Hear the Wedron story (</strong><strong><a href="##starved">above)</a></strong><strong>.</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Benzene is not associated with the process of mining for frac sand.&nbsp;</strong>The mining process may use a lot of water and kick up a lot of dust, but it does not routinely require chemicals like benzene. If benzene in Wedron is somehow related to the presence of the mine, it would have to do with products used to clean equipment, or for maintenance or transportation, not mining itself.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Benzene could be associated with equipment used at the mine, or with an old spill.</strong>&nbsp;Twice in the last fifty years, trains have derailed in Wedron and spilled petroleum directly into the ground. Recent investigations have also uncovered underground storage tanks from former gas stations on the land now belonging to Illinois Railway, which hauls sand in and out of Wedron. A final theory on the source of the contaminants, suggested by Bob Bowcock, an environmental investigator for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brockovich.com/projects/wedron-illinois/" target="_blank">Erin Brockovich</a>, is that a mixture of chemicals including petroleum and solvents come from an equipment maintenance facility on the Wedron Silica property. Fairmount Minerals, the owner of Wedron Silica, denies this charge.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The groundwater flow has been altered by mining in Wedron.</strong>&nbsp;A 2013 EPA groundwater study found that the pumping up of water out of a mining pit on the west side of town has likely caused the groundwater in Wedron to flow west, away from the train tracks and across town toward the pit. If this is true, that would be an alteration to its natural path. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/wedron/pdfs/wedron-memo-201302.pdf" target="_blank">EPA document&nbsp;</a>says &ldquo;mining operations are generally responsible for the reversal of natural groundwater flow direction and lowering the water table in Wedron.&rdquo; If the mine ceased to use the pit, the water could reverse itself and begin to flow downhill toward the river again.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>In 2007, Fairmount Minerals opened a new frac sand treatment facility called Technisand.</strong>&nbsp;Technisand produces resin-coated sand for fracking, and has facilities in Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Mexico. The company has declined to discuss whether benzene could be involved in the Technisand operation in Wedron, but maintains that it does not believe Wedron Silica is responsible for a petroleum spill.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>An investigator from Erin Brockovich&rsquo;s office says they intend to file suit against the sand mine.</strong>&nbsp;Bob Bowcock, an environmental investigator for the Brockovich firm, says the suit will ask for damages on behalf of 35 residents of Wedron.&nbsp;<em>(Updated July 17. A previous version of this story listed the number involved in the suit as 25.)</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Lewis Wallace is a reporter. Follow him on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/behind-fracking-boom-sand-mining-rush-108078 With bill passage, Illinois on a fast track to fracking http://www.wbez.org/news/bill-passage-illinois-fast-track-fracking-107488 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Fracking1_130603_LW.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois came a giant step closer to approving the nation&#39;s strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling on Friday, as lawmakers approved a measure they hoped would create thousands of jobs in economically depressed areas of southern Illinois.</p><p>The Senate passed the legislation 52-3, one day after it was overwhelmingly approved in the other chamber. Gov. Pat Quinn promised to sign it, calling the legislation a &quot;shot in the arm for many communities.&quot;</p><p>The legislation was crafted with the help of industry and some environmental groups &mdash; an unusual collaboration that has been touted as a potential model for other states.</p><p>Legislation sponsor Mike Frerichs, a Champaign Democrat, said stakeholders &quot;sat down for hundreds and thousands of hours&quot; to hammer out the issue.</p><p>&quot;These are tough regulations that are going to protect and preserve our most valuable resources in our state,&quot; he told floor members. &quot;We are going to increase home produced energy in our state in one of the most environmentally friendly ways possible.&quot;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F95291584" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>While proponents have said hydraulic fracturing, or &quot;fracking,&quot; would generate tens of thousands of jobs, opponents have been pushing for a two-year moratorium to allow more time to examine health and environmental impact. They are worried fracking could cause pollution and deplete water resources.</p><p>&quot;This bill was written by industry and parties that have a vested interest,&quot; said Annette McMichael, a property owner in Johnson County who belongs to a coalition that opposes fracking. &quot;We have no say in our own water. ... We are totally helpless.&quot;</p><p>Despite the numerous protests by her group, Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment, and others &mdash; one woman was forcibly removed from the House chamber on Thursday after the vote &mdash; there was little opposition to the measure on the floor. Senators on both sides of the aisle praised the compromise.</p><p>&quot;This could be a bright economic future for many, many Illinoisans,&quot; said Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican.</p><p>Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals are used to crack rock formations deep underground and release oil and natural gas.</p><p>Among the provisions in the proposed legislation are requirements that drillers disclose the chemicals they use and that they test water before and after fracking. Companies also would be liable for any water pollution, and citizens could sue independently of state enforcement.</p><p>Sen. Mattie Hunter, who was among the few who voted against the legislation, said in a statement that the state should &quot;halt fracking practices and allow for a task force to complete concrete, comprehensive evaluation of this highly controversial industry moving further.&quot; The Chicago Democrat had introduced a measure that would put a temporary ban on the practice, but two bills proposing a moratorium never gained sufficient traction.</p><p>Sen. Sue Rezin, a Morris Republican described the legislation as having &quot;the highest environmental regulations in the entire country.&quot;</p><p>Energy companies are eyeing the New Albany shale formation in southern Illinois, where they believe there are significant oil reserves 5,000 feet or more below the surface. But actual drilling isn&rsquo;t likely to start for at least a few months, as the first step for potential drillers is a registration and permit application process that could take months. The process includes 30 days for public comment and public hearings if requested.</p><p>After approval, the permitting process requires water quality monitoring and careful controls on the storage and shipment of fracking-related materials and waste, and imposes criminal and civil penalties for violations of the law. The bill also allows for citizens&rsquo; suits against drillers who violate regulations.</p><p>A recent report found fracking is already underway in Illinois, even in the absence of such regulation.</p><p>Henry Henderson of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that&rsquo;s among the reasons why NRDC supported regulation over no action at all.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re moving from essentially an unregulated situation where Illinois Department of Natural Resources had very little ability to structure what would happen in the state on fracking,&rdquo; said Henderson. Now, his concern is with the IDNR&rsquo;s ability to oversee the complex permitting process provided for by the new law.</p><p>&ldquo;There are important technical issues, there are important procedural issues,&rdquo; said Henderson, for which IDNR will need additional staff and resources. IDNR director Marc Miller said the agency is planning to hire 53 new people, and begin the permitting process in a matter of months.</p><p>&quot;This agency, and the Quinn administration, takes very seriously our responsibility for stewardship and for environmental protection,&quot; Miller said.</p><p>But some argue that even with tight regulation, fracking is likely to harm the environment and human health and enforcement will be difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;Our colleagues in Pennsylvania have seen nearby residents getting sick from this dirty drilling, have seen water supplies contaminated, have seen landscapes and forests devastated,&rdquo; said John Rumpler of Environment Illinois. A recent report from Pennsylvania found thousands of violations of the state&rsquo;s regulations on hydraulic fracturing from 2008-2011, many with immediate environmental consequences.</p><p>While the measure passed easily in both chambers, the road there wasn&#39;t easy. An amendment requiring energy companies to hire a state-licensed water well driller delayed the vote for more than a month before industry and unions reached a compromise that gives drillers a break on extraction taxes if at least half of their employees are from Illinois.</p><p>Opponents say the regulatory legislation would leave Illinois communities with no control over the practice.</p><p>But others felt it was the best the state could do. State Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat said it was &quot;about as good of a regulatory bill as we could offer.&quot;</p><p>&quot;God willing,&quot; Harmon said, &quot;it&#39;s good enough.&quot;</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a WBEZ Pritzker Fellow. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants" target="_blank">@lewispants</a>.&nbsp;The Associated Press contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 08:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bill-passage-illinois-fast-track-fracking-107488 Water, water everywhere, but not enough to drink http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/water-water-everywhere-not-enough-drink-107361 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/watertower%20flickr%20willitrun.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="The water tower at Chicago and Michigan Avenues. This landmark building served as a pumping station, used to deliver water from the lake starting in 1869. (Flickr/Willitrun) " /></div><p>The story of Chicago&rsquo;s founding as a modern American city sometimes reads like the creation myth of some bygone animist religion. We were meant to settle here, the story goes, because this is the spot where the winding Chicago River empties cleanly into the great blue expanse of Lake Michigan. This is the place where the prairie meets the water, where the water meets the prairie.</p><p>Great news &ndash; especially the water part &ndash; for a booming metropolis, right?&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It would seem that Chicago would have no problem,&rdquo; said Northwestern University historian Carl Smith. &ldquo;Twenty percent of the world&rsquo;s surface water is right there. . . What more could you want?&rdquo;</p><p>Actually, Smith says, Chicago&rsquo;s natural landscape proved a huge disadvantage to early settlers.</p><p>The ground was soggy and drained poorly. The river deposited silt in the lake and made navigation around the mouth of the river nearly impossible. And crucially, the city made the grave mistake of dumping its waste and pulling its drinking water from the same source.</p><p>Can you say cholera? It took an outbreak of the waterborne disease (and the surfacing of dead bodies in the shore-side cemetery) for city fathers to figure out what a bad idea this was.</p><p>Smith has studied of what came next, and the resulting book, <em><a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo15233177.html">City Water, City Life</a> (University of Chicago Press, 2013)</em>, outlines the Chicago&rsquo;s early attempts to build the kind of water infrastructure needed to support the Windy City&rsquo;s rapid growth.</p><p>The bigger Chicago got, the more desperate its water problems became. The city had 330,000 inhabitants by 1870, and over a million just 20 years later, making it the second largest in the country and ushering in a kind of urban density the country had never known.</p><p>You can&rsquo;t just let people fend for themselves at that point, Smith argues &ndash; especially if you need them.</p><p>&ldquo;As a matter of principle you cannot deprive people of water, and [in] practice you need these people, particularly to work the jobs in the city,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In the audio above, Smith explores Chicago&rsquo;s first few attempts to lick this problem. It&rsquo;s a shockingly juicy tale for a bit of urban planning history.</p><p>My favorite part? The one where fish came right out of the taps!</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Carl Smith spoke at an event presented by the Newberry in May of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/city-water-city-life-water-and-infrastructure-ideas-urbanizing-philadelphia">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 15:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/water-water-everywhere-not-enough-drink-107361 City Water, City Life: Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/city-water-city-life-water-and-infrastructure-ideas-urbanizing-philadelphia <p><p>A city is more than a massing of citizens, a layout of buildings and streets, or an arrangement of institutions. It is also an infrastructure of ideas, an embodiment of the beliefs, values, and aspirations of the people who created it. In <em>City Water, City Life</em>, historian <strong>Carl Smith</strong> explores this infrastructure of ideas through an examination of the development of the first successful waterworks systems in Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago between the 1790s and the 1860s.</p><div>Through an analysis of a broad range of sources,<strong> </strong>Dr. Smith shows how the discussion, design, and use of waterworks reveal how Americans framed their conceptions of urban democracy and how they understood the natural and the built environment, individual health and the well-being of society, and the qualities of time and history.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>City Water, City Life</em> is more than a history of urbanization. It is also a meditation on water as a necessity, as a resource for commerce and industry, and as an essential&mdash;and central&mdash;part of how we define our civilization.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Carl Smith is the Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies and professor of history at Northwestern University. His books include three prize-winning volumes: <em>Chicago and the American Literary Imagination</em>,<em> 1880-1920</em>; <em>Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire</em>,<em> the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman</em>; and <em>The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TNL-webstory_4.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at The Newberry Library.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 May 2013 10:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/city-water-city-life-water-and-infrastructure-ideas-urbanizing-philadelphia MPC Roundtable — Immeasurable Loss: Modernizing Lake Michigan Water Use http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mpc-roundtable-%E2%80%94-immeasurable-loss-modernizing-lake-michigan-water-use <p><p>During every moment of every day, northeastern Illinois is losing Lake Michigan water &ndash; and with it, the money rate payers contributed to pumping, treating and distributing this water. Yet while we know our region is losing vast sums of Lake Michigan water, and we know this inefficiency is costing us money, we do not have a clear picture of how much water or how much money we are wasting. The best available data suggest the problem is enormous &ndash; approximately 490 million gallons a week, enough water to fill more than one Willis Tower. However, the way Illinois grants Lake Michigan water permits does not capture data that identify the causes of loss and solutions to prevent it. That&rsquo;s just one reason why the Ill. Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR) has proposed changing the permit process.</p><div>At this roundtable, MPC releases our paper <em>Immeasurable Loss: Modernizing Lake Michigan Water Use</em>, which supports IDNR&rsquo;s proposals and makes further recommendations for more efficient water use. The paper and the discussion provide up-to-date information on IDNR&rsquo;s proposals and an opportunity for frank discussion.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Panelists:</div><div><strong>Dan Injerd</strong>, Chief, Lake Michigan Management Section, Ill. Dept. of Natural Resources <strong>Michael Smyth, Sr</strong>. Manager of Field Services and Production, Illinois American Water <strong>Mike Ramsay</strong>, Public Works Supervisor, Village of Westmont <strong>Josh Ellis</strong>, Program Director, Metropolitan Planning Council.</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MPC-webstory_6.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br /><br /><br />Recorded live Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at the&nbsp;Metropolitan Planning Council.</p></p> Tue, 07 May 2013 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mpc-roundtable-%E2%80%94-immeasurable-loss-modernizing-lake-michigan-water-use 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 As Emanuel announces new flood control project, some say plans need to adapt for climate change http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-announces-new-flood-control-project-some-say-plans-need-adapt-climate-change-106791 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flooding_130422_LW.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As neighborhoods from Albany Park to South Shore work to wring out water-damaged possessions and clear up flood debris, Chicago area water managers say they&rsquo;re doing what they can to control flooding. But some also say climate change could make the task more difficult in the future.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans Sunday to construct a huge new tunnel at a cost of $45 to $55 million to help reduce flooding in the Albany Park area, which also experienced a serious flood in 2008. Speaking on the issue Monday, the mayor also noted that Albany Park has &ldquo;been affected by once-in-a-century flooding that happened twice in five years.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Donald Wuebbles, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois, has also noticed unusually frequent extremes in Chicago&rsquo;s weather.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The projections are that we will see even more precipitation coming as larger events in the future,&rdquo; Wuebbles said. He&rsquo;s been writing and speaking for years about the effects of climate change on weather, and<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/local/chicago-tackles-climate-change"> for years has been warning Chicagoans about more frequent catastrophic storms</a> to come due to warming atmospheric temperatures.</p><p dir="ltr">David St. Pierre, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District says as far as he&rsquo;s concerned, that reality is already here.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing a lot more severe events than we saw ten years ago, five years ago,&rdquo; St. Pierre said.</p><p dir="ltr">He said tunnels like the one proposed by the city and the MWRD&rsquo;s Deep Tunnel project can address stormwater issues to a limited extent, but even the biggest tunnel will not be able to handle the new normal. St. Pierre thinks the region also needs to look at solutions that keep water completely out of an overwhelmed sewer system.</p><p dir="ltr">Take, for instance, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/green-solutions-to-overwhelmed">green infrastructure</a> proposals that have been around for a while. In 2003, then-Mayor Richard Daley&rsquo;s office released <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/doe/general/NaturalResourcesAndWaterConservation_PDFs/Water/guideToStormwaterBMP.pdf">a document on best stormwater management practices</a> including green roofs and permeable pavement. But the issue is a regional one, and ideas that would make green infrastructure a requirement have been slower to take shape.</p><p dir="ltr">The City of Chicago&rsquo;s stormwater ordinance passed in 2007 regulates runoff from new developments and redevelopment projects above a certain size, suggesting on-site retention systems and permeable pavement among the management options. But its scope has been limited so far. And the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District drafted a Watershed Management Ordinance in 2009 that includes requirements for wetland protection and maintenance of permeable surfaces in new developments; it could come up for a vote this year. Meantime, the Chicago Department of Transportation is working on a draft of its own &ldquo;Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Guidelines&rdquo; that would mandate careful control of runoff in all new city infrastructure. Eventually, these ideas would form a patchwork of regulations to prevent flooding.</p><p dir="ltr">But none of these options retroactively require homes or businesses to control runoff into the city&rsquo;s sewers, a limitation that could become increasingly significant with each new season of huge storms. In the meantime, city officials are asking residents who want to join neighborhood-wide mitigation programs to look into its <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/water/supp_info/basement_floodingpartnership.html">Basement Flooding Partnership</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Correction: The audio version of this story incorrectly referred to Donald Wuebbles as John Wuebbles.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88459714" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 08:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-announces-new-flood-control-project-some-say-plans-need-adapt-climate-change-106791