As a consortium of cities continues efforts to protect the Mahomet Aquifer, an expert is updating them on the 'Sole Source Aquifer' petition process. To qualify, applicants have to prove the Aquifer supplies half the effect communities' drinking water, and that there's no other water supply available. Groundwater hydrologist Al Whermann says nearby communities with alternative supplies are even looking to supplement them with water from the Mahomet Aquifer. He admits a Sole Source designation may not impact the Clinton Landfill's request for storing toxic substances called PCB's over the Aquifer:
"The PCB landfill has already gone through kind of a process. We're not sure we're going to be able to interject ourselves into that soon enough now. We certainly want to try and make sure those kinds of things don't happen again. But there is the potential that it may cause some re-thought on those permitting agencies if they know this is in the works."
Whermann says the designation will create greater public awareness for the 14 counties that rely on the aquifer, and the importance of protecting it. The petition process before the U-S EPA takes about six months. The Sole Source designation would also mean future federally funded projects would be reviewed for their potential to hurt the aquifer, and modified so they won't. Wherman addressed the Urbana and Champaign City Councils this week.
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