Environment
1:16 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Hundreds Turn Out To Champaign EPA Meeting On Sole Source Designation

During a public forum Tuesday night in Champaign, about 300 people urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to designate a major source of drinking water in the region as a sole source aquifer.

The EPA is seeking public comment on the proposed designation for the Mahomet Aquifer, as a landfill looks at storing toxic chemicals above the site. This was the public first meeting hosted by the EPA on this issue.

It isn’t hard to figure out how Lois Kain of Urbana feels about this issue. At the meeting, Kain was carrying around a large sign that on one side said 'Protect Our Mahomet Aquifer,' and on the other side there was a map of the Aquifer and a big 'X' over PCB’s, the toxic chemical that could end up in the landfill right above the aquifer.

The landfill company said a liner will protect that water from PCB’s. The EPA designation could stop that by giving the agency the authority to review any federally funded project near the aquifer. Kain said the designation is a no-brainer.

“This is our water," she said. "There is no other water here. If something were to happen to it, we’d be in a lot of trouble.”

Everyone who spoke at the meeting agreed with her. More than half of residents in east-central Illinois rely on the Mahomet Aquifer system as a source of the drinking water. Philip Hult lives in a rural area, just north of Mahomet, and his well water comes from the aquifer.  

“I’m concerned about the cleanliness of water. It’s important for life," Hult explained. "Not just for myself, but for future generations."

The EPA holds another public forum on Wednesday night in Morton on the sole source designation. The agency said it could make a final decision in a couple of months.