Water Conservation and Sustainable Water Practices
Currently considered to be water rich, Illinois has ample surface waters including rivers, lakes and reservoirs as well as sufficient ground waters such as aquifers and shallow wells. However, this supply must be carefully managed to meet a growing demand for agricultural and industrial use as well as municipal water supplies. In a changing climate, natural stresses such as heavy storms can cause sewer flooding and system contamination while severe droughts can seriously lower supplies.
Water resource sustainability involves maintaining the health of ecosystems that depend on clean water. This not only includes drinking water but also reliable supplies for sustainable agriculture, green industry, and transportation. This work revolves around using only the water that is truly needed. It includes stringent pollution controls, well-run municipal water/sewer systems and effective storm water management. Making this effort today helps to keep communities prepared and resilient to face future emergencies.
What Illinois Community Colleges Are Doing:
Illinois community colleges are working on their campuses and with their local communities to reduce water consumption as well as improve their storm water, wastewater, and drinking water infrastructures. IGEN is also helping to make our communities and campuses more water resilient. This work includes:
- Developing degree and certificate programs leading to careers in water quality and waste water technology.
- Offering continuing education programs for professionals such as treatment plant operators.
- Using campus facilities as living laboratories to demonstrate green infrastructure projects such as wastewater treatment, native landscaping and rain water capture.
- Renovating and retrofitting existing buildings with innovative technologies using best practices for more efficient water use. This includes low flow sprayers, low flow toilets and water bottle filling stations.
- Training to conduct accurate water audits and water efficiency measurements.
- Installing proper storm water management with bioswales, rain gardens and pervious pavers.
In the water sector, green collar jobs and careers are those that save water and energy while alleviating pressure on our water infrastructure.