IFB NLRS efforts represented in state task force aquifer recommendations

New technology, improved education and outreach also included in list of recommendations.

By Kay Shipman

A state task force highlighted technology and education among its top recommendations to maintain water quantity and quality in a central Illinois aquifer. The Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force recently completed its study and reported recommendations to the Illinois General Assembly and the governor.

The Mahomet Aquifer stretches across 15 east-central Illinois counties from Iroquois and Vermilion counties to Mason and Cass counties. It provides water for 120 public water systems and thousands of rural well owners.

The panel’s top recommendations centered on new technology, known as helicopter-based time-domain electromagnetics (HTEM), to help the state scientific surveys more accurately map and characterize the aquifer and its potential connections to other aquifers and surface waters and recharge areas. Data collected via HTEM would be integrated into next-generation groundwater flow models, the task force stated.

Another recommendation seeks improved education and outreach to help residents, governments, industries and others better understand the aquifer’s resources, water demand, supply planning and management.

Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau director of natural and environmental resources, noted IFB and farmers have, and continue to, invest time, effort and dollars into education and outreach about nutrient management, especially the statewide Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS). In its report, the task force recommended continuing NLRS implementation efforts and raising awareness of its targets.

The panel also recommended continued funding of scientific research for agricultural best management practices and wastewater treatment plant technologies to reduce nutrient losses. Members encouraged expansion of cost-share opportunities that support farmer adoption of best management practices.

The task force also recommended continued use of the established water supply planning process to review and update regional and local supplies at least every five years. IFB has supported Illinois’ use of a science-based regional water supply planning process, Lurkins said.

The 24-member task force represented different interests, including four state legislators, three mayors, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois State Water Survey, environmentalists, waste recycling, industry and agriculture. Chandlerville farmer Steve Turner represented IFB and agriculture on the task force.

Lurkins said Farm Bureau members may direct questions about the task force report to her.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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