Aquifer action 'big victory for the community'

Aquifer action 'big victory for the community'

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SPRINGFIELD — Legislation granting extra protection to the Mahomet Aquifer and other aquifers in the state was signed into law Friday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

HB 1326 prohibits the disposal of manufactured gas plant wastes at most landfills in Illinois. As originally introduced the measure would have banned the disposal of PCBs and MGP waste at the Clinton Landfill, west of Champaign-Urbana, and any other landfill where runoff goes into the Mahomet Aquifer.

But an agreement this spring between the landfill owners and Dewitt County took care of the PCB issue.

“I think it’s a big victory for the community. This has been going on for a long time, something I’ve been aware of since I was on the Champaign County Board,” state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said of the bill of which she was chief House sponsor.

“Between this and the sole source designation (as a drinking water supply) by the federal EPA this year, I think the community has something to be proud of,” she said.

More work remains, said Ammons, who said she will meet next week with local residents who are concerned about fly ash that can be buried at the Clinton landfill. 

“We’re going to continue to work to protect that water source,” she said.

The Mahomet Aquifer is a deep underground source of water for Champaign-Urbana and residents of 14 other central Illinois counties.

“The Mahomet Aquifer serves as a lifeline for our region,” said Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, the principal Senate sponsor of the bill. “It’s our duty to protect this important resource for the sake of our children and generations to come.”

Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, who has been working on aquifer protections for years, praised the Rauner administration and the state EPA for working to protect the aquifer.

“The state EPA had completely walked away from us. It was pretty frustrating” said Rose. “But in January we got a working group together with Carol (Ammons) and Scott (Bennett) and representatives of the EPA and the (Champaign County) health care consumers and we all came together and got this started.”

It’s been a good year for the aquifer, he said, with the federal sole source designation, the agreement between DeWitt County and the Clinton Landfill operators, the new state law and a pending agreement between the state, a number of local governments and the Clinton Landfill.

“It’s kinda weird how after eight years suddenly all of this came together in the space of a few months,” said Rose. “I think it’s great, particularly with everything else going on in Springfield, for local legislators to work together in a bipartisan effort to move forward on something so important.”

The bill signed by Rauner prohibits MGP waste anywhere besides a permitted hazardous waste disposal site, unless the waste is tested using a specific scientific method and that the analysis shows the waste does not exceed federal standards.

MGP waste is mostly waste products from the process once used to illuminate and heat central Illinois cities more than 100 years ago. In recent years those wastes have been unearthed in Illinois cities. In Champaign they were removed from a site at Fifth and Hill streets in north Champaign.


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pattsi wrote on August 15, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Not done yet--next comes the consent decree.

pattsi wrote on August 15, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Oops duplicate posting.