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Area leaders look to protect aquifer

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- City leaders in various parts of Central Illinois are anxious to protect the Mahomet aquifer as a "sole source."
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- City leaders in various parts of Central Illinois are anxious to protect the Mahomet aquifer as a "sole source." The title would put harsher restrictions on companies wanting to do business near the water source. WCIA-3's Jessica Shaw looks into the impact of the designation.

Area leaders hope it would help fight the Clinton landfill. Owners want to store hazardous materials above the aquifer. Several area cities have joined forces to stop it.

"This is our region. This is our farm, this is our agriculture, this is our business, this is our life."

Just a few reasons mayors Don Gerard and Laurel Prussing say the Mahomet aquifer needs this special designation.

"It's what's called a sole source aquifer. That makes it more difficult for licensing a landfill."

Champaign-Urbana, along with Normal, Savoy and a few other cities are petitioning the EPA for the title.

"It means it's really important."

It also means new rules which could possibly stop the Clinton landfill from expanding. Owners of the landfill want to store PCB's on top of the aquifer. That chemical was banned in 1978. Those toxins come from a clean-up on the Great Lakes, but owners of the landfill say a special liner would keep it away from the water.

The application process will cost about $55,000. The cost would be split among the cities, according to population. Money, Mayor Don Gerard considers would be well-spent.

"The city manager has a discretionary fund for things like this, and it's certainly no pun intended, an investment for something so vital."

Officials in the cities want to have the application finished by the end of October. The EPA is taking another look at the application to store waste above the aquifer, giving owners hope it will sway a decision in their favor.
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