Helping ensure high quality, clean drinking water for people in Central Illinois for generations is the requirement of the Mahomet Aquifer Task Force, of which State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) was appointed to on Sept. 6. Rose co-sponsored legislation (SB 611) this past spring creating the task force.
The Mahomet Aquifer Task Force consists of lawmakers, environmental groups, leaders in agriculture, local government, and labor, among others. They will study the issue of maintaining clean drinking water for the 500,000 Central Illinois residents who receive their water from the Mahomet Aquifer.
“This is another major step forward on the issue of protecting the Mahomet Aquifer,” Rose said. “This task force will be a big tool to ensure protection of our water supply for generations to come. I look forward to the task force’s findings and how we can implement them to keep clean drinking water flowing for decades.”
Specifically, the Mahomet Aquifer Task Force must:
· Develop a state plan to maintain the groundwater quality of the Mahomet Aquifer;
· Identify potential and current contamination threats to the water quality of the Mahomet Aquifer;
· Identify actions that might be taken to ensure the long-term protection of the Mahomet Aquifer;
· Make legislative recommendations for future protection of the Mahomet Aquifer.
“Staying proactive on this issue is a must,” Rose said. “When you have hundreds of thousands of people relying on the Mahomet Aquifer for water, saying it’s an invaluable resource is an understatement. So, protecting it now and for the future is highly critical. We fought hard over the years and beat back the threats and attacks on the Mahomet Aquifer, but we must stay vigilant by continuing to make more and more progress on ensuring clean drinking water for our citizens. This task force will help in that arena.”
The task force will report its finding and solutions to the General Assembly by July 1, 2018.
The Mahomet Aquifer:
Is the primary source of water for 14 counties in Central Illinois;
Provides 53 million gallons of water per year for 120 public water systems;
Supplies thousands of rural wells.
In 2016, working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Rose secured a commitment by the IEPA to perform enhanced monitoring that will further protect the Mahomet Aquifer. The IEPA, at Rose’s request, also created a statewide directory of landfills, active and inactive, which is posted on the agency’s website.
In 2015, Rose led efforts at the Statehouse passing a law subjecting remediation waste to rigorous scientific testing to ensure that toxic wastes would not be deposited in the Clinton Landfill, which sits on top of the water supply.
For years prior, the Mahomet Aquifer was under threat of having toxic PCBs placed above it in the Clinton landfill. In 2014, the IEPA modified the landfill’s permit by blocking the use of a chemical waste unit for the disposal of federally-regulated manufactured gas plant and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste. This was a reversal of the IEPA’s earlier position that granted the landfill the right to store toxic waste above the water supply. The IEPA’s action to modify the landfill’s permit came about after years of coordinated work between community groups, local officials, and local legislators, including Rose, which forced the IEPA to do the right thing and protect the water.