Illinois groundwater withdrawals are governed under the rule of reasonable use, with no permitting program for withdrawals. Building on the precedent of the Lake Michigan Allocation program, CMAP supports the development of a comprehensive groundwater management program to resolve conflicts and manage withdrawals for long-term sustainability. This will be particularly important in coming years as climate change is expected to diminish the amount and quality of water supplies while also increasing water demand.{{U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2014 National Climate Assessment, Water Supply,}} To implement such a program, critical elements of water supply management will need to be strengthened, including more robust annual and monthly water reporting from communities, to inform the regional groundwater flow model, river water studies, and regional water demand forecast. Communities that coordinate with ISWS to review new public or private well proposals will have a better understanding of potential effects and can plan accordingly to reduce conflicts and shortages.

Communities are already organizing to protect water resources, with examples that include the Northwest Water Planning Alliance (NWPA), the Barrington Area Council of Governments, and communities and industrial partners in the Joliet area. As groundwater is a shared regional resource, withdrawals require coordination across jurisdictions; management systems can evolve as new information and policies become available. As groundwater-dependent communities face growing challenges due to over-withdrawal and contamination, some might pursue access to Lake Michigan water. As required by their permits, Lake Michigan communities can help make more of the state’s limited allocation available to others in the region by increasing conservation and efficiency and reducing water loss. Water 2050{{Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, “Water 2050: Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Supply/Demand Plan,”2010}} and a subsequent CMAP report{{Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, “An Assessment of Water Loss among Lake Michigan Permittees in Illinois,” 2014,}} identified key strategies for water demand management and water loss reduction.

Action 1

Continue to disseminate information to groundwater-dependent communities on the potential effects of continued groundwater withdrawals and consequences for existing communities and future growth.


Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), IDNR, CMAP, and partners

Action 2

Regularly report water use to the State and consult ISWS on groundwater impacts of new development and wells.


Community water suppliers

Action 3

Explore ways to coordinate withdrawals and management of shared water resources with neighbors.


Community water suppliers, dependent on constrained supplies

Action 4

Continue local and sub-regional coordination efforts, promote demand management strategies, and explore the development of plans for existing and future Fox and Kankakee River users.


CMAP, NWPA, and partners

Action 5

Explore the development of a comprehensive groundwater management program.


CMAP and partners

Action 6

Explore and advance specific legislative changes of the state-wide groundwater protection authority as part of a larger effort to improve state management of water resources.


IDNR and the State Water Task Force

Action 7

Follow the Lake Michigan Allocation Program requirements{{17 ILAC Ch. I, Subch. h, Sec. 3730.}} to maintain compliance with provisions of the U.S. Supreme Court consent decree{{ Wisconsin v. Illinois, 388 U.S. 426 (1967); 449 U.S. 48 (1980).}} and the Great Lakes Compact.{{ U.S. Congress, “Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact,” Public Law 110-342, 122 S. 3739, 110th Cong., 2008,}}


Lake Michigan permittees

Action 8

Promote stormwater infiltration to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that counts toward the allowable allocation.


Local governments, within the Lake Michigan basin

Action 9

Develop contingency plans for droughts and other water emergencies that limit the availability of water.


Municipalities, working with counties and state partners