Mahomet Aquifer feeds fish, veggies
There has been much conversation recently concerning the importance of keeping the Mahomet Aquifer free of polychlorinated biphenyls with most of the concern centered on drinking water. However, there are other uses of the aquifer, some of which many people may not be aware of.
The aquifer extends from near the Illinois-Indiana border in Iroquois and Vermilion counties and west to the Illinois River. Near the Illinois River in Sand Ridge State Forest, the state of Illinois owns and operates the Jake Wolf Memorial Fish hatchery. High-density fish cultivation at the hatchery produces 18 different species of fish in running water provided by 10 wells that deliver 6,000 gallons of water per minute, from the Mahomet Aquifer. These fish are used to stock Illinois lakes, ponds, reservoirs and streams, including Lake Michigan. PCBs in the aquifer could lead to contamination of the fish throughout the state.
In addition, the Mahomet Aquifer is near the surface in parts of Mason and Tazewell counties, and much of the soil is sandy, which makes irrigating crops from the aquifer common practice.
In addition to field crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat, many vegetables (green beans, sweet corn, pumpkins, cabbages, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peas, melons and more) are grown in this area and canned by companies such as Green Giant, Del Monte, Libby's and smaller canneries. Also Mason County produces more popcorn (with many fields irrigated from the Mahomet Aquifer) for Weaver Popcorn than any other county in the nation.