Illinois Governor Cancels Study on State Water Supplies

Plans for state scientists to study underground water supplies in Illinois came to a halt yesterday when Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed a bill calling for the survey, according to a report by Kate Clements in The News-Gazette.

"While I support the study of the state's groundwater supply as a comprehensive and long-term approach to water supply management in Illinois, due to the state's diminishing revenues, we do not have the money available to fund the study at this time," the governor said.

The study was estimated to take 10 to 20 years and could have cost between $500,000 and $2 million a year.

State Sen. Rick Winkel, R-Champaign, sponsored the bill ordering the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois State Geological Survey to conduct the first extensive testing of aquifers in the state to make sure communities are not draining them too rapidly.

He said the study would have given citizens more information about the effects that population growth, utility companies, and businesses have on local water supplies.

"Naturally, I'm very concerned," Winkel told Clements in response to the veto. "The aquifer study must be done and we need to do it sooner rather than later. I certainly understand the budget implications. I accept that for now, but I can guarantee you that I will pursue this. It's absolutely critical. It's vital to the future of this state that we know how much water we have in the ground. It's that simple. Right now, we don't know."

To conduct the study, the scientists from the survey would have to drill observation wells and collect samples to determine the quality of the water in the state's aquifers and how much water may safely be drawn from each.

"To not know this information, to not research it and establish a baseline, we don't know when someone comes to us and says we'd like to withdraw a million gallons a day, we don't know if that's going to be a problem or not," he said.

Winkel introduced similar legislation when he was a state representative, but it never made it to the desk of the governor.

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, who co-sponsored the water study bill this spring, was not available for comment Wednesday.

The News-Gazette

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