Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ricca Slone Speaks in McHenry County

At the Crystal Lake Kiwanis Club meeting two weeks ago, former State Representative Ricca Slone (D-Peoria) gave a talk on water.

Since leaving the legislature, she has moved back to Chicago and is working for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

With water wars breaking out in McHenry County, her message was not a political one.

Rather it had to do with the necessity for water conservation in McHenry County.

The reason is pretty obvious, but, for those who don’t know that McHenry County will never get Lake Michigan water, there it is.

All of Lake Michigan’s water is spoken for. Illinois only gets so much and the users are pretty much determined.

“If you’re not getting Lake Michigan water, you’re not going to get Lake Michigan water,” she said.

(Now, it is true that Chicago could free up some water by actually metering it and charging according to usage, but I’m not holding my breath.)

McHenry County is destined to get its water from wells.

Slone argued for

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.
And her message was short and direct:
Without changes in current usage, there won’t be enough water.
She pointed to the Baxter & Woodman study that shows McHenry County is “already drawing down more than 90% of what is available” in Algonquin and Grafton Townships.

And, the Catch-22 of development is that it “greatly affects ground water. Impermeable surfaces cover re-charge areas” for shallow aquifers.

And, she pointed out, water that could be used to re-charge aquifers often literally goes down the drain, ending up in the Gulf of Mexico, instead of the ground under McHenry County.

She pitched “water conservation plans” for local governments.

One example of what one might include is simple enough.

Did you know that top loading washing machines use more water than ones where the door opens in front?

My family has owned both, but I certainly hadn’t figured that out.

Slone suggested that agreements with new developers could require that they install front loaders, instead of their more water-using counterpart. Every load of wash would save more than half the water used by some toploaders, she said.

Annual water savings?

5,000 gallons.

And, that’s not counting energy savings, if one uses heated water.

Other suggestions include water permeable tile, rather than asphalt. (That fights with the desire not to let oil products enter the aquifer, however.)

Posted first at McHenry County Blog.

1 comments:

Watcher In The Center,  4:24 PM  

Cal:

To really get a good fix on the problem, ask yourself the following questions:

1. McHenry County:

1(a) How many active private water wells are in use in the County?
1(b) Breakdown by political township?
1(c) How many private water wells exist within municipal boundaries? Numbers by municipality?
2) Present that information to me graphically (lets actually get some use out of that hideously expensive GIS System that the County just hid in the data processing department budget), by year. I want to see any trends that are developing.
3) Then, I want a plot out of all undeveloped subdivision lots outside municipalities, so one can get a handle on the number of undeveloped (no new building or building permits issued) lots and where those private water wells are going to be placed.

Now, I'm not stupid enough to think that any of the above questions will be answered by the "suits in charge" at McHenry County, because it would mean that not only would this actually require some high priced talent to do some useful work, but it might mean that they would seriously have to look at the problems. Can't have that.

Now, do all of the above steps again, ony this time, instead of private water wells, look at private septic systems.

If you get access to all the data & read between the lines, it's not pretty.

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