Adventures in Designating the Mahomet Aquifer of Illinois as a Sole Source Aquifer

Tuesday, May 6, 2014: 11:10 a.m.
Confluence B (Westin Denver Downtown)
Allen Wehrmann, P.E., P.H. (GW), D.WRE , Independent project consultant, Champaign, IL
Susan Licher , Layne Christensen, Bloomington, IN
Dan Haddock, P.E. , Layne Christensen, Bloomington, IN
Jack Wittman, Ph.D. , Formerly with Layne Christensen, now with INTERA Incorporated, Bloomington, IN

The Sole Source Aquifer (SSA) Program was an original part of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. SSA designation is intended to protect critical groundwater resources for public health and long-term economic development and is designed to protect aquifer quality by adding a USEPA review component to certain federally-funded projects. Some 73 aquifers have been designated as Sole Source Aquifers, but none in almost 20 years. Recent threats to the Mahomet Aquifer in Illinois spurred a coalition of communities to seek ways to protect the aquifer, one of which was to seek designation of the aquifer as an SSA. The Mahomet provides drinking water to an estimated 700,000 people including ~120 communities and thousands of rural residents. SSA designation efforts were initiated when application to USEPA Region V was submitted in December 2012. On a purely technical level, the aquifer clearly falls within the definition of a SSA. However, concerns have been raised regarding possible unintended consequences resulting from designation. A discussion of the designation process and pitfalls, and the importance of public education and input, will be presented. As of November 2013, no decision on designation had been made.

Allen Wehrmann, P.E., P.H. (GW), D.WRE, Independent project consultant, Champaign, IL

Allen Wehrmann spent 34 years in the Groundwater Section of the Illinois State Water Survey, including nine years as Section Head where he oversaw major efforts to assess long-term groundwater availability in Illinois with an emphasis on northeast and east-central Illinois (particularly the Mahomet Aquifer). He was approached by Layne Christensen to serve as project consultant assisting a coalition of Illinois communities seeking Sole Source Aquifer designation of the Mahomet. Wehrmann earned a B.S.C.E. from Iowa State University, is a registered Professional Engineer, is a certified Professional Groundwater Hydrologist (AIH), and is a Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer of ASCE’s AAWRE.

Susan Licher, Layne Christensen, Bloomington, IN
Susan Licher is a water resource professional that has worked to protect and conserve water in many parts of the United States. She received her M.S. from Missouri State University and has worked for the USGS and a private consulting firm. Throughout her education and schooling she has focused solely upon water resources and is currently moving her primary means of protection and conservation from science and planning to education. Licher finds helping people protect and conserve our most vital resource both rewarding and challenging, with each new place a unique experiment.

Dan Haddock, P.E., Layne Christensen, Bloomington, IN
Dan Haddock is the General Manager of Layne Hydro, a division of Layne Christensen, providing hydrogeology and water supply planning services to utilities, industry, and agriculture. He has 24 years of experience in varied aspects of water utility engineering and management, with expertise in comprehensive planning, life-cycle cost analysis, regulation, and sustainable infrastructure. Haddock is a licensed civil engineer in 13 states and is active in leadership roles in multiple professional associations.

Jack Wittman, Ph.D., Formerly with Layne Christensen, now with INTERA Incorporated, Bloomington, IN
Jack Wittman has been working as a groundwater scientist and hydrologist since the early 1980s. After several years in state and tribal government regulating mining and nuclear waste isolation, he conducted research applying new modeling techniques to well field design. In so doing, he is one of the co-inventors of a patented method for simulating radial collector wells. Prior to joining INTERA, Wittman was the national director of geosciences for Layne Christensen where he led a team of scientists and engineers that specialized in well field design and impact analysis.