News Local/State

EPA Designates Mahomet Aquifer ‘Sole Source Aquifer’

EPA map of Sole Source Aquifer area in Mahomet Aquifer.

EPA map of Sole Source Aquifer area in Mahomet Aquifer. (EPA)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added a layer of regulatory protection to the Mahomet Aquifer, declaring it a primary source of drinking water for much of central Illinois.

The aquifer, which covers all or part of 14 Illinois Counties (including Champaign, Vermilion, Ford, Macon, Menard, Piatt, DeWitt, McLean, and Iroquois) is a formation of sand and gravel that runs roughly from the Indiana state line west to the Illinois River in Cass County in west-central Illinois.

The EPA on Wednesday said the Mahomet aquifer is the 'sole source aquifer' for than 750,000 people in central Illinois. That guarantees extra scrutiny of any project there that includes federal finances.

The aqufier appears on a map like a giant zigzag jutting southwest from near Danville to the Illinois River south of Peoria.

“This designation makes clear the importance of the Mahomet Aquifer and will hopefully help further the bipartisan efforts of state and local officials to protect the main source of drinking water for more than 700,000 residents throughout Central Illinois," said Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville.

“More than half of the population in central Illinois relies on the Mahomet Aquifer as a primary source of drinking water. It is a unique, precious resource and special care should be taken to ensure its protection,” said Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. “I commend the EPA for taking this step to protect the Mahomet Aquifer from any threat to the aquifer’s health and safety.”
Local leaders in towns that use the aquifer pushed for the designation to try to block plans to store toxic PCBs in the Clinton Landfill, over the aquifer.  The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency blocked those plans last summer based on a problems with local approvals of the project.
A request for comment was left for a lawyer for the company behind the project, Peoria-based Area Disposal Service Inc.

Water utilities across much of the part of central Illinois that sits over the aquifer tap it for drinking water.  Farms and businesses in towns across the region also use it.