Study Shows NE Illinois Should Have Enough Water to 2050, Illinois State Water Survey

ISWS Press Release

For Immediate Release June 18, 2012
Study Shows NE Illinois Should Have Enough Water to 2050
Scott Meyer, - (217) 333-5382,
Lisa Sheppard - (217) 244-7270,

Water supplies in NE Illinois should be adequate for the next 40 years, yet communities should still analyze their own situations and work with neighboring communities to avoid conflicts in the years ahead, according to Scott Meyer, hydrologist with the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) at the University of Illinois.

As summarized in a new published report titled Northeastern Illinois Water Supply Planning Investigations: Opportunities and Challenges of Meeting Water Demand in Northeastern Illinois, ISWS researchers created scenario models of water supplies from Lake Michigan, the Fox River, and deep and shallow aquifers.  The scenarios considered such factors as changes in population, household income, number of power plants, and water conservation measures.

Lake Michigan supplies the most water in the NE Illinois region, and will continue to provide an adequate supply for a long time.

“Comparing reasonable demand estimates and using the most justifiable assumptions, the outcomes indicate we can supply the amount of water we need in the Lake Michigan service area to the year 2050 and possibly a little more,” Meyer said.

Like Lake Michigan, the Fox River, which is the sole source of water for Aurora and Elgin, should provide not only enough water supplies to meet the needs in the area, but also additional supplies.

Projections for the two types of aquifers are not quite as hopeful.  Communities such as Joliet and Aurora, which use water from the deep aquifers, may want to consider shifting to other sources in the future.  Increased pumping of water from deep aquifers can cause the water quality to deteriorate.  Specifically, studies from Wisconsin have shown that increased pumping causes a rise in arsenic concentrations.

Shallow aquifers should provide sufficient water supplies in most areas, so long as communities consider acceptable water uses.

“There is time (from 10 to 30 years depending on the community) to pursue source and management alternatives, but since major construction projects and regional management plans take time to implement, planners should act now,” Meyer said.

The report summarizing the ISWS research study is available online at

The Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a division of the Prairie Research Institute, is the primary agency in Illinois concerned with water and atmospheric resources.

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