EPA at center of aquifer controversy

By Anthony Antoine | aantoine@wcia.com

Published 04/30 2014 06:10PM

Updated 05/14 2014 11:43AM

Latest: 10:02 pm, 5/13/14, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- The fight over the Mahomet Aquifer rages on. Hundreds of people packed into a room to voice frustrations with the EPA. Those people are trying to keep their drinking water clean for years to come, but a meeting with the EPA led to more questions. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine finds out if any headway was made.

Representatives from the EPA will suggest the agency approve the Mahomet Aquifer be considered a sole source. It means every federally-funded project which could contaminate the ground be scrutinized. That's what people were fighting for, but they learned getting that title won't help their cause 100%. Since the Clinton Landfill is a private company, the strategy wouldn't apply here.

"The threat to the aquifer is very, very real."

For Terry Jobin, the thought of his water being contaminated is frustrating.

"Why even take the risk of contaminating a wonderful aquifer that supports three-quarters of a million people in East Central Illinois?"

Area Disposal, a company out of Peoria, wants to drop hazardous waste at its Clinton Landfill. It sits over the aquifer. Jobin is fighting back.

"I do it for us now and I do it for generations in the future and I've got grandkids that live in this area and I don't want them to be affected by this."

So, environmental groups wrote a petition. It asked the EPA to make the Mahomet Aquifer a sole source aquifer. It has to meet two requirements.

"If more than 50 percent of the people living over the aquifer get their drinking water from the aquifer, then you must also show that there are inadequate alternative sources of drinking water to replace the aquifer if they were contaminated."

The EPA agreed, but then came information no one expected. The title only protects federally-funded projects. The company in Clinton is private.

"I thought the EPA would help us. The sole source aquifer is great, but that's not going to help us stop this thing at the landfill. It says the Environmental Protection Agency, they're not going to protect us."

The second hit? The title of sole source only covers Illinois. The aquifer stretches into Indiana and Ohio. Those states wouldn't have any protection.

"I don't understand this. There's three states affected and these people could poison us all! I have granddaughters that live across the street from me. I don't want them sick. I don't want them dying, that's for sure."

After the final approval, the Mahomet Aquifer would be the first in Illinois. Wednesday, the EPA will hold another public hearing in Morton.
Latest: 10:38 am, 5/13/14, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- You can be part of the discussion on the Mahomet Aquifer. About 750,000 people get their water from it. City officials and the EPA will hold a public meeting to discuss how to keep PCB's from the Clinton Landfill out of the water source. Students from UI are also working on a plan.

Mahomet Aquifer Public Hearing
Hilton Garden Inn, Champaign
Tuesday, May 13
Update: 4:11 pm, 5/2/14, Friday
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- UI researchers could be the key to protecting the Mahomet Aquifer. Clinton Landfill wants to store PCB's over the aquifer. State and federal authorities want to keep that from happening.

A group from UI will look into what can be done with PCB's and how to keep them out of Central Illinois landfills. Their work could have an impact nation-wide. The Mahomet Aquifer supplies water to a half-million people in Central Illinois.
Original: 6:10 pm, 4/30/14, Wednesday
ILLINOIS -- The EPA is asking for your input on the Mahomet Aquifer. More than 750,000 people get their water from there. The EPA could agree to designate a part of it as a "sole source aquifer." It would force a review of any project which could negatively impact water quality.

The EPA will hold a public hearing in Champaign, Tuesday, May 13, at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Pertinent documents are available at the following locations:
  • 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
  • Watseka Public Library, 201 S. 4th St., Watseka
  • U.S. EPA's Region 5 Office, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago

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