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Study at root of Bloomington pumping from Mackinaw River questioned

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 17:26:49 CST
By: Rachel Darling

An Illinois State University Biologist is questioning the scientific basis for state permission to pump from the Mackinaw River to help fill up City of Bloomington water reservoirs. Professor Angelo Caparella says the study justifying the Pumping Station is flawed because it did not look at enough species that might be impacted by low water levels.

"The city ought to update and expand the study to include the majority of the sensitive species as well as implement monitoring downstream any time they do take substantial amounts, which they are doing now, out of the Mackinaw River, otherwise we are really operating in the dark."

As one example, Caparella notes the study looked at only one of 20 species of so-called riffle fish in the Mackinaw, which could be vulnerable to low water levels. But, City of Bloomington Water Director Craig Cummings says he is confident in the study's findings and pleased with the results of using the pumping station only during droughts.

"Last time we pumped was maybe 2007. I don't think we have had anyone complain or show that there was damage to that stream."

Cummings says for those reasons it is not necessary to put money into conducting another study. The city took three quarters of a billion gallons from the Mackinaw since last summer's drought. Pumping has now ended as water levels have risen in lakes Bloomington and Evergreen.

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