Illinois’ abundant water resources face a number of infrastructure planning challenges, including storm-water runoff, increasing residential, industrial and commercial use, and impacts from climate change.
Urban storm-water runoff is one of the major sources of impairment to Illinois’ lakes and streams. Impervious surfaces (roads, rooftops) greatly increase the volume and velocity of storm-water runoff, which picks up pollutants that can degrade water quality if discharged untreated into lakes or streams.
Urban runoff pollutants include: sediment; oil, grease, and toxics from vehicles; pesticides and nutrients from lawns and gardens; viruses, bacteria, and nutrients from pet waste and septic systems; road salts; and heavy metals from roof shingles, motor vehicles, and other sources. In periods of rainfall or snow melt, the waste-water volume in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the system; in which case, the system is designed to overflow and discharge excess waste-water directly to nearby streams, rivers, lakes, or estuaries. Polluted runoff and combined sewer overflows can harm people recreating on affected waterways, kill aquatic life and contaminate important sources of drinking water.
- Illinois should assign State Revolving Funds (SRF) to projects that result in decreased water usage, decreased discharges of water pollution, increased use of green infrastructure, and increased community resilience.
Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program for Stormwater Management Biannual Report
More on sewage overflows into the Great Lakes by the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
Prairie Rivers Network on preventing stormwater runoff.
Friends of the Chicago River on threats to the Chicago River.
More on the importance of stormwater management by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP).