IISG wins two publication awards

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant won two APEX 2011 Awards for Publication Excellence, both in the category Green Materials. Irene Miles, communication coordinator, and Susan White, graphic designer, won for the IISG impact statement series titled Impacts: Today and Tomorrow. These four publications describe the program’s success stories and ongoing projects related to aquatic invasive species, unused medicines, land use planning, and water resources. For a free copy of any of these, visit our program publications page.

The second APEX award goes to Robin Goettel, associate director for education, for the 4-H curriculum Sensible Disposal of Unwanted Medicines. This booklet provides five inquiry-based lessons to help high school youth understand the harmful effects of improper disposal of medicines and what they can do to help. Robin shares this award with Natalie Carroll of Purdue University Extension, Whitney Siegfried, who is now at the University of South Dakota, and Deb Eisenmann, a freelance designer. You can order or download this booklet on our education publication web page.


IISG in the news: Water resources studied in Lake Zurich

From the Daily Herald:
A survey of Lake Zurich residents regarding household water use and other water related issues is under way as part of a trendsetting effort to determine how the village can best manage its resources.

Pursuing Lake Michigan water to replace groundwater or finding more efficient ways to treat wastewater are among several strategies that could result from a unique study that has the support of major regional planning agencies. Read more.


IISG in the news: Lake Michigan or groundwater? Water-strapped Chicago suburb eyes options

From Great Lakes Echo:
Before the wells dry up and the sewers overflow, a northwest Chicago suburb has teamed up with an all-star squad of planners to guide future water policy and use.

The small village of Lake Zurich gets drinking water from an aquifer that is pumped faster than it can recharge, according to studies. The water also has low levels of radium, which means treatment and extra costs for the village.

And the village’s sewer system is strained to capacity, stirring fears of a double digit sewage rate increase to fix the problem, said Rich Sustich, village trustee, who is spearheading the water planning effort.

“When you have this nexus of issues like we have – drinking water, storm water and wastewater, it forces out-of-the-box thinking,” Sustich said.

In January, Illinois approved Lake Zurich and nine other communities in the northeastern part of the state to tap Lake Michigan for water because of growing concern that the groundwater they use now will dry up. Studies indicate that population and economic growth will cause water use to increase even if conservation measures are taken.

Lake Zurich is not ruling out sticking a straw into Lake Michigan, but has decided to take a more calculated approach.

“Most people don’t realize that there are substantial costs to get drinking water from Lake Michigan,” Sustich said. “You don’t just tap right in.” Read more.


In the news: Millions of Great Lakes fish killed in power plant intakes

From the Chicago Tribune:
Despite decades of efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes, dozens of old power plants still are allowed to kill hundreds of millions of fish each year by sucking in massive amounts of water to cool their equipment.

Records obtained by the Tribune show that staggering numbers of fish die when pulled into the screens of water intake systems so powerful that most could fill an Olympic swimming pool in less than a minute. Billions more eggs, larvae and juvenile fish that are small enough to pass through the screens are cooked to death by intense heat and high pressure inside the coal, gas and nuclear plants. Read more.


In the news: Green trend comes to lawns — with a splash of dandelion yellow

From the Chicago Tribune:
With a front-yard view of the Fourth of July parade route in Arlington Heights, Lisa Croneberg feels extra pressure to make her lawn look good.

So her husband puts away the old-fashioned manual lawn mower, borrowing a gas-powered model for the occasion. He uses organic fertilizer, aerates the sod and waters it until it's a deep green. But he won't spray weedkiller — that's where the couple draw the line.

"I'm scared of the toxic way we're treating the planet," she said. "Nobody feels like their little bit is going to make a difference. But I feel like every little bit does."

Once a rarity, natural lawn care is becoming a feature of Main Street U.S.A. Although for many homeowners a carpet of spotlessly green grass remains the American ideal, a small but growing group is willing to accept a weed or two if they can do without synthetic fertilizers or weed-killers. Read more.


The many ways to value water: Forum June 9th

For many decision-makers, the major bottom line that is on their minds is the financial one. However, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant are presenting a water resources forum that hopes to bring to light the often-forgotten bottom lines – environmental and social.

The event is “Sustaining the Triple Bottom Line: The Full Value of Water Resources.” It will provide information to policymakers, sustainability managers, sustainability officers, and others on how water resource impacts can be measured, valued, and incorporated into decision-making. Speakers will address valuing sustainability initiatives, water certification, water impact indexing, methods for valuing water resources, and other related topics. The forum is part of implementing the CMAP “Water 2050: Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply Plan,” which was commissioned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to address rapid population growth that could lead to water shortages in coming years.

“Measuring the full impact of human activity on our water resources and increasing awareness of economic valuation techniques will go a long way toward moving our region forward with sustainable water supply planning,” said IISG Water Resource Economist Margaret Schneemann.

The forum will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 9th at the CMAP offices in Chicago, 223 S. Wacker Drive, suite 800. It is being sponsored by the University of Chicago Program on Global Environment, as well as the Environment, Agriculture, and Food Working Group at the University of Chicago. To RSVP for this event, e-mail Jamie Krell at jkrell@cmap.illinois.gov or call (312) 386-8658.


Lake Zurich dips into water supply planning

From our latest issue of The HELM:

In Lake Zurich, a northwest Chicago suburb, leaders are looking at their current water situation as a glass that is half full. This Lake County village is in the process of deciding what will be its future water source because continuing to pump from its deep aquifer is not sustainable.

“Some people think of these issues as challenges; I think of them as opportunities,” said village Trustee Richard Sustich, who is spearheading the water initiative.

On March 7, the Lake Zurich Village Board signed a memorandum that approved hiring an integrated water resources management team to advise the community as it develops its future water plan. The team will assist the village with the engineering, cost, and analysis of the different water options.

The Metropolitan Planning Councilis leading the team, which also consists of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Read more.

In the news: A Toxic River Improves, but Still Has Far to Go

From the New York Times:
Thomas Simon remembers the day he found a carp in the Grand Calumet River in 1985, barely alive, bloody and with no fins. “It looked like someone had beaten it up,” said Mr. Simon, a biologist who studied the river for 26 years.

Yet state officials were thrilled, because it was the first fish found in years in the northwest Indiana river that is widely considered the nation’s most toxic waterway.

A quarter century later, fish are more plentiful and look healthy. But state and federal agencies say they are still unsafe to eat, their flesh laced with toxins from sediment poisoned by decades of dumping from nearby steel mills, chemical plants, meatpacking operations and other industries. Read more.


In the news: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District may stop fighting Chicago River cleanup

From the Chicago Tribune:
In response to efforts to clean up the Chicago River, top officials at the taxpayer-funded agency that handles Cook County's sewage and stormwater have argued that the endeavor would waste money, cause global warming and lead to children drowning.

But after spending eight years and more than $13 million fighting tougher water-quality standards, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is poised today to officially drop its long-standing opposition. Read more.


In the news: Dogs, new computer models help keep beaches open

From the Chicago Tribune:
As beaches officially open this weekend, health officials are using cutting-edge computer systems, frequent water testing and even specially trained dogs to monitor water quality and keep Lake Michigan safe for swimming.

Communities across the country traditionally have relied on testing water samples to determine if there are dangerous levels of bacteria. The tests can take up to 24 hours to process, however, forcing officials to decide whether to ban swimming based on day-old data.

But new technology is beginning to slash that lag time, allowing health officials to analyze results more quickly and accurately. Read more.