Illinois

EPA Designates Mahomet Aquifer as “Sole Source” of Drinking Water in East-Central Illinois

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a decision to designate a portion of the Mahomet Aquifer system as a sole source aquifer. More than half of the population in east-central Illinois relies on the Mahomet Aquifer system as a source of drinking water.

The Safe Drinking Water Act gives EPA authority to designate all or part of an aquifer as a “sole source” if contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health and there are no physically available or economically feasible alternative sources of drinking water to serve the population that relies on the aquifer. The designation authorizes EPA review of projects that receive Federal financial assistance to assess potential for contamination of the aquifer system that would create a significant hazard to public health.

The Mahomet Aquifer system is an underground layer of water-bearing sand and gravel that fills a wide bedrock valley in an area that includes 14 east-central Illinois counties. The aquifer system provides about 58 million gallons of drinking water each day for 120 public water systems and thousands of rural wells that serve about a half million people in Illinois.

EPA’s public comment period on the designation began on March 13, 2014, and closed on June 12, 2014. EPA held public hearings on May 13 in Champaign and on May 14 in Morton. Following a review of public comments, EPA prepared a Responsiveness Summary which addresses comments and answers questions. The decision goes into effect when it is published in the Federal Register.

The Responsiveness Summary and other relevant documents will be available to the public at EPA’s regional office, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago; Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., Champaign; Bloomington Public Library, 205 E. Olive St., Bloomington; Pekin Public Library, 301 S. Fourth St., Pekin; Havana Public Library, 201 W. Adams St., Havana; and Watseka Public Library, 201 S. 4th St., Watseka.

For further information, go to www.epa.gov/region5/water/gwdw/mahomet

Compromise possible in state’s recycling programs

Read the full story from Suburban Life Media.

Manufacturers and those pushing for a change in Illinois’ electronics recycling law are inching closer to a compromise to save underfunded recycling programs statewide.

House Bill 1455 — filed in Springfield late last week — adjusts the funding formula that’s used by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to fund these in-demand electronics recycling programs. If nothing is done, the steep cost of recycling could shift to consumers or to local governments that hold collection events.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Land of Lincoln

Read the full post from ACEEE.

Illinois—the land of Lincoln according to its license plate—has made great strides in energy efficiency in recent years. In 2014 it ranked 11th overall in ACEEE’s annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, up 15 slots from its score 5 years earlier. The main reason for its rise in rank was the state’s performance on utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies. Energy efficiency measures installed under utility-sector programs reduced statewide electricity use by about 1% of the state’s total electricity consumption in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. This placed Illinois 13th among US states in electricity savings, up from a tie for dead last in the 2009 Scorecard.

Under Illinois law, utilities collect the money for efficiency programs through rates, keeping 75% of the funds to operate their energy efficiency programs. They remit the remaining 25% to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), which uses these funds to operate energy efficiency programs for low-income households and for state and local government facilities. Both the utilities and DCEO have done well. A 2014 ACEEE analysis found that Illinois electric utilities have exceeded their energy saving goals every year, while the gas utilities have just about met theirs. A 2014 independent evaluation of DCEO’s programs estimated that they have an overall benefit-cost ratio of 2.26.

Unfortunately, in late February, Illinois’ new governor, Bruce Rauner, proposed a budget that would divert $265 million of ratepayer funds intended to be used for energy efficiency and low-income energy assistance to the state general fund, to apply to a state budget shortfall (further information here ). This includes DCEO’s energy efficiency programs that are discussed above as well as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps pay the energy bills of low-income families. Even though the proposed budget isn’t effective yet, it’s reported that senior staff at DCEO’s energy efficiency programs have already been laid off, and remaining staff told not to sign any new contracts or to approve any new rebate applications. Most legal observers believe the legislature must approve the diversion—its approval is far from certain—but the governor appears not to be waiting.

Food Scrap Composting Challenges and Solutions in Illinois

This report is designed to educate elected officials, composting industry stakeholders and advocates, and the public at-large about opportunities and strategies related to developing a robust food scrap composting industry in Illinois. This report and the Executive Summary of Recommendations support the work of the Task Force on the Advancement of Materials Recycling, and include recommendations already being addressed by the Task Force – including the SB850 transfer station pilot program, Illinois food labeling and national labeling standards, state procurement policy requiring the use of Illinois compost, and compost site permitting revisions.

The IFSC intentionally decided to limit the scope of the report to food scrap composting, while fully recognizing and supporting the role of food scraps in the creation of renewable energy and other useful by-prod­ucts through the utilization of anaerobic digestion as an alternative to composting.

  • Background: The MSW and Composting Landscape
  • The Benefits of Composting
  • The Importance of Composting for Illinois
  • Food Scrap Composting Model Policies and Programs
  • Compost Quality Standards and Economic Potential
  • Analysis
  • Challenges and Solutions

2015 IGEN Sustainability Conference

Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN)
Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM Friday, January 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM (CST)
Normal, IL
Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2015-igen-sustainability-conference-tickets-14420643533

The Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) is hosting a statewide conference on January 29 – 30, 2015 at Heartland Community College in Normal, IL. The purpose of the two-day conference is for representatives from Illinois community colleges and communities to come together and exchange successes and lessons learned to advance sustainability across the state.

We have secured a block of rooms at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel & Conference Center for Thursday, January 29, located at 201 Broadway Street in Normal. The room rate is $70/night. Please reference the Illinois Green Economy Network to receive the reduced rate. Please make your reservation by Wednesday, January 7.

Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Please contact igen.administrative.team@igencc.org with any questions.

NOTE: If you are interested in being a sponsor for the conference, please notify us at igen.administrative.team@igencc.org.