Coordination and conservation are key to a sustainable Will County water supply

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Communities in western Will County are working together to identify alternative water sources that can lower their dependency on a sandstone aquifer in danger of running dry. Aquifers are underground layers of permeable material that produce water for residents and businesses alike. After decades of high use, aquifers throughout the county are being used to withdraw 30.5 million gallons of water a day when studies have shown the sustainable amount really should be 2.5 million gallons a day.

The issue raises major sustainability concerns over communities’ drinking water supplies. Risk maps that depict future water demand projections also pinpoint widespread areas in the region where water wells may no longer operate decades from now. In response to this problem, Joliet is building out infrastructure to switch from groundwater to Lake Michigan water by 2030. Communities in western Kendall County and southern Kane County also are grappling with having their groundwater supplies run dry over the long term.

As part of ongoing work to understand future water supply conditions in Will County, the Illinois State Water Survey provided communities with risk maps and projections of their individual groundwater supply challenges, using CMAP’s socioeconomic and water demand forecasts to understand future water use. CMAP’S ON TO 2050 plan recommends coordinating and conserving our shared water resources, and identifies a number of additional activities stakeholders can use to help in this effort. This policy brief delves into the questions facing Will County communities and their groundwater supplies, and sheds light on the solutions that can put our region on a more sustainable path going forward.

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