Household leaks cost the country more than a trillion gallons of water a year—enough to quench the water needs of roughly 11 million homes. The common culprits are toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaky valves. Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take in your home and yard to save water and money. And that’s what Fix a Leak Week, March 16-22, is all about.
Sponsored by EPA’s WaterSense program, Fix a Leak Week offers demonstration events and online resources to help homeowners find and fix leaky toilets, shower heads, and more.
Household Water Efficiency is part of a larger effort to help individuals and communities secure a sustainable water supply. The Chicago region has long benefited from an abundance of fresh water. But legal limits on how much can be pulled from Lake Michigan and strained aquifers have left many concerned that demand will outpace supply.
In response to these concerns, CMAP led the development of a comprehensive water supply management plan for the 11 counties in the greater Chicago area. IISG research, including an overview of water rates, provided critical data for key components of the plan. IISG also developed a guide that helps city officials plan and implement water rates that encourage conservation and provide sufficient funding for utilities to detect and fix leaks in their water systems.
Three years after residents of Wauconda, IL approved a plan to transition to Lake Michigan water, the Lake County village has finally received the okay to build the infrastructure needed for delivery. Along with the nearby village of Volo, Wauconda is expected to begin tapping into the new source in 2018.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The agreement to deliver Lake Michigan water to Wauconda was a long time coming.
In 2012, Wauconda voters approved a $50 million plan to access Lake Michigan water, according to previous Tribune reports. But a deal with the water agency fell through in 2013, following a collapse in negotiations.
Talks started again in 2014, according to Tribune reports, with Wauconda and the agency reaching a deal early this year to deliver water to both Wauconda and Volo.
Now, planners are figuring out where to lay about 11 miles of new water pipe, said Darrell Blenniss, the joint water agency’s executive director. Read more
The move toward Lake Michigan water is important for Wauconda and Volo. Like many northeastern Illinois communities, these villages currently draw water from deep-rock aquifers that are being drained faster than they can recharge. Lake Michigan offers a more dependable supply for these growing communities. And because groundwater supplies can contain low levels of chemicals that drive up treatment costs, the switch may also prove more cost effective.
But transitioning aquifer-dependent communities to lake supplies is just one step towards securing long-term access to quality drinking water. Conservation is needed to ensure communities don’t pull more from the lake than federal law allows and to relieve some of the pressure on inland supplies.
That’s why IISG has teamed up with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to help communities implement some of the key water supply management strategies laid out in the region’s Water 2050 plan. For example, we developed the Full-Cost Water Pricing Guidebook to help officials adopt prices that fully reflect water costs and encourage conservation. Margaret Schneemann, our water resource economist, has also helped planning groups and communities adopt lawn watering ordinances to curb inefficient outdoor water use.
To learn more about these and other efforts, visit our Water Supply page.