Urbana backs special protection for Mahomet Aquifer

Urbana backs special protection for Mahomet Aquifer

URBANA — Mayor Laurel Prussing said on Monday night that the city's preliminary approval of seeking special protection for the Mahomet Aquifer comes at a good time while the EPA considers a federal permit for a special landfill.

Council members on Monday unanimously said they are willing to spend thousands of dollars to do the necessary research to petition the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the Mahomet Aquifer as a "sole-source aquifer," which would put more stringent rules on any potential sources of contamination.

The Mahomet Aquifer is a natural underground reservoir from which an estimated 750,000 central Illinois residents draw their water.

For years, Clinton Landfill in DeWitt County has been seeking federal approval to bury polychlorinated biphenyl waste above the aquifer in a special cell designed to stop leakage. Within the past several months, central Illinois government agencies have been working to monitor the landfill's interaction with the aquifer.

Now those agencies are looking to protect the purity of the aquifer with the special EPA designation. According to city documents, getting the EPA to approve the designation could take two or more years. Meanwhile, EPA approval for the landfill's desire to bury the chemical waste was expected months ago, but the agency last month announced it would delay a decision while officials study the site.

"I think this is good timing," Prussing said.

The city of Urbana is splitting the cost with the city of Champaign and the town of Normal. Some council members were miffed on Tuesday when they learned that Illinois American Water has decided to contribute no funding to the project.

Prussing said the company seems to be more worried about the short-term dollar amounts.

"I think that points out that the cities are really concerned about the long term," Prussing said.

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