A report on water usage on the Kaskaskia River watershed might not seem exciting, but it could impact more than 60,000 people in the metro-east who rely on the river for water.
The Heartlands Conservancy is giving people a chance to review a report looking at current and future water usage from the Kaskaskia River watershed.
Until Aug. 31, the Comprehensive Evaluation and Plan for the Regional Water Supply of the Kaskaskia River Basin through 2050 will be available for public comment.
According to the report, there are more than 37,000 users in St. Clair County, more than 19,000 in Madison County and thousands of users in cities such as Breese, Carlyle and the towns served by the SLM Water District.
According to 2005 numbers, users took out 58.1 million gallons of water per day from the river with 47.4 million of that in power generation.
Planners estimated usage in 2050 at three levels, depending upon normal conditions, intense usage and less-than-intense usage.
McCreary said future usage would be 66.9 million gallons per day in 2050 at normal conditions, 63 million for less-intense usage and 71.9 million for more-intense usage.
The report even included a provision for extreme drought, which called for about 3 percent more usage from residential consumers but 13 percent more for agricultural use.
Predictions for population growth in the watershed district call for more than 20 percent at optimal conditions. The main drivers of water usage are population and economic growth, according to the report.
The 189-page report looks at many of the elements involved in the water supply from the watershed and predicts future usage at several levels.
The study was conducted by lead researcher H. Vernon Knapp of the Illinois State Water Survey, part of the Prairie Research Institute, using historic research and models to predict future usage. It was mainly funded by the Illinois Clean Coal Institute and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Allie McCreary, an environmental programs technician with Heartlands in Mascoutah, said the report found 290 public water supply companies in the watershed that served an estimated population of 1.06 million people.
The river has two large federal reservoirs, Carlyle Lake and Lake Shelbyville, and its watershed (the area which drains into the river) includes all or parts of 22 counties. St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties are three of four counties which are only drained partly by the Kaskaskia.
Water users include public supplies, industrial firms, power generation plants, agricultural and environmental.
The report recommends more study, especially establishing and maintaining an inventory of water withdrawal and usage for each county to make sure any usage problems can be identified in the future.
To see the full report you can visit the website: www.heartlandsconservancy.org.