EPA may become involved in aquifer debate

By Anna Carrera

Published 03/12 2014 05:46PM

Updated 03/13 2014 09:45AM

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Since people in the area don't have a second source of water, local leaders continue fighting to keep the Mahomet Aquifer safe. More than 750,000 people get their water from that source. Now, a national organization may help protect it too.

The EPA may soon designate it a "sole source" aquifer. If that happens, the group would review any projects which could endanger the water. People around Central Illinois have been trying to get that designation for years, including mayors from Champaign, Urbana, Bloomington and Normal, plus state and federal legislators.

The issue has become even more important after a proposal came up for a chemical waste landfill over the aquifer. It would allow PCB's in the Clinton Landfill. That's a chemical used in motor oil.

Champaign Mayor Don Gerard says the situation feels like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax.

"You never think someone would have the audacity to try to store PCB's over our water supply but they did," said Gerard. "It's a resource we can't afford to endanger. This is long over due."

Not only is the aquifer the only source of water for nearly one million people, it's also the second source for people who used Lake Decatur and other water supplies around Central Illinois.

The proposal isn't a done deal yet. The EPA plans to have a three month public comment period starting Thursday. It will make a final decision after that.

You can get involved with the Sole Source Water Conversation too. There are two informational meetings with formal public hearings afterwards.

May 13 - Informational meeting at 6:30 pm, public hearing at 7:30 pm
Hilton Garden Inn, Champaign
May 14 - Informational meeting at 6:30 pm, public hearing at 7:30 pm
Morton Park District's Freedom Hall, Tazewell County

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