Mahomet Aquifer Study Short of Funds

April 10, 2009

A major study on the Mahomet Aquifer has been left unfinished because its state funding was cut off. Now the consortium that oversees the project is trying to raise the money to complete it.

Funding for the three-year study of the Mahomet Aquifer came by executive order of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. The study looked at future water needs in the region, and the aquifer's ability to supply it. But as the state's budget problems worsened, the third year of funding was cut. The Mahomet Aquifer Consortium is now asking governments, civic groups and businesses in the region to chip in for the final 140-thousand dollars needed to wrap up the study. Consortium board member Tom Berns made the request Thursday night to the Champaign County Board Finance Committee.

The Finance Committee deferred action on the request, with members saying they want to help, but that the county budget is tight, too. Berns says that so far, they've only lined up 10 to 20 percent of the 140-thousand dollars needed --- but many of those contacted for help are still considering the request.

So far, the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium has only raised a fraction of the money needed to finish the study. Consortium technical adviser Allen Wehrmann says much of the 140-thousand dollars they're now seeking would package the study's conclusions and recommendations for wide public distribution --- from the boardroom to the classroom. Wehrmann, who's on the staff of the Illinois State Water Survey that will enable them "to teach people about what the aquifer is and how to best take care of it".

Wehrmann says they've learned through the study that the Mahomet Aquifer does have enough water to supply projected water needs for communities in east-central Illinois over the next forty years. But he says there could be a negative impact on water levels in the Sangamon and Vermilion Rivers.

Story source: AP