Fact Sheets & Reports | 5th & Hill Toxic Site | Events | Take Action | In the News | City of Champaign Groundwater Ordinance | Boneyard Creek Pipe Excavation | The Mahomet Aquifer

City of Champaign Groundwater Ordinance

About the City of Champaign’s “Groundwater Ordinance”

The ordinance passed by the Champaign City Council in June 2007 is a “groundwater ordinance” that prohibits Champaign residents from drilling private water wells for drinking purposes. The ordinance was supposedly passed in an effort to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals from contaminated sites such as the Ameren toxic site in the 5th & Hill neighborhood.  However, the real purpose of the ordinance is not to prohibit residents from drilling private water wells, but to give polluting companies a “strategy” for “remediating” (not the same as cleaning up) contaminated groundwater under the IL EPA’s guidelines.

What you need to know: In the city of Champaign, a 20 year-old ordinance already prohibits residents who are served by public water supplies from drilling private water wells.  In other words, if the City’s 2007 groundwater ordinance were repealed today, City residents would still be prohibited from drilling private wells.

What you need to know: The ONLY purpose of the City’s 2007 groundwater ordinance is to let polluting companies off the hook for having to clean up contaminated groundwater (this is a City-wide ordinance, so any polluter can benefit from this ordinance, if they choose to use it). The City’s documents and those of the IL EPA make it very clear that the purpose of this ordinance is to save corporations money and time by letting them leave contaminated groundwater in place, uncleaned. They literally do nothing to remove or reduce toxic contamination.
 
The Ordinance is really an “institutional control” under the IL EPA: The City’s 2007 groundwater ordinance is actually known, under the IL EPA, as an “institutional control” ordinance. Institutional control ordinances are made available to polluting corporations so that, rather than cleaning-up or containing toxic contamination, these corporations can use “legal mechanisms” that supposedly limit residents’ contact with toxic chemicals. Under the IL EPA’s Site Remediation Program, whenever local governments enact these ordinances, polluting corporations can latch onto these ordinances and use them as their way of “remediating” or “addressing” contamination, rather than coming up with a real clean-up plan.

What you need to know:  A polluting company can “remediate” contamination by actually cleaning up (removing) the contamination, or by using legal loopholes such as “institutional controls.”  A real clean-up means removing and reducing, if not eliminating, the amount of toxic contamination actually present in the environment.

What you need to know: The fact of the matter is that the City’s ordinance does nothing to reduce residents’  current exposure to toxic chemicals in the groundwater from the 5th & Hill site because: a) residents in the 5th & Hill neighborhood do not own or operate private water wells and have no intention of drinking the toxic groundwater, and are in fact already prohibited (by the 20 year-old City ordinance) from drilling private wells; and b) the residents’ and community’s risk of exposure to the toxic groundwater is not primarily from ingestion (drinking) but from inhalation of the vapors that are emitted from the groundwater and that travel up through the soil into the places where people live.
 

Sign the petition!

Clean up Toxic Groundwater at 5th & Hill:  Repeal the City of Champaign’s Groundwater Ordinance!

We, the undersigned, are calling on the Champaign City Council to repeal its 2007 groundwater restriction ordinance, which lets Ameren (and other polluters) off the hook for cleaning up toxic contaminated groundwater flowing from Ameren’s toxic site at 5th & Hill Streets in Champaign.

Ameren promised to completely clean-up the toxic contamination coming from its toxic property in the 5th & Hill neighborhood in Champaign. However, under the IL EPA’s guidelines, Ameren is now off the hook for having to clean-up the toxic contaminated groundwater because of an ordinance that was passed by the City of Champaign in June 2007, in agreement with the IL EPA.

The City of Champaign’s “Groundwater Ordinance” offers no protection (except to Ameren’s pocket book): The ordinance passed by the Champaign City Council in June 2007 is a “groundwater ordinance” that prohibits Champaign residents from drilling private water wells for drinking purposes. However, the real and only purpose of the ordinance is to give polluting companies a “strategy” for “remediating” contaminated groundwater under the IL EPA’s guidelines. In the city of Champaign, a 20 year-old ordinance already prohibits residents who are served by public water supplies from drilling private water wells.  In other words, if the City’s 2007 groundwater ordinance were repealed today, City residents would still be prohibited from drilling private wells.

The ordinance is really an IL EPA “institutional control” for polluting corporations: The City’s 2007 groundwater ordinance is actually known, under the IL EPA, as an “institutional control” ordinance. Institutional control ordinances are made available to polluting corporations so that, rather than cleaning-up or containing toxic contamination, these corporations can use “legal mechanisms” like institutional control ordinances that supposedly limit residents’ contact with toxic chemicals. Under the IL EPA’s Site Remediation Program, whenever local governments enact these ordinances, polluting corporations can latch onto these ordinances and use them as their way of “remediating” or “addressing” contamination, rather than coming up with a real clean-up plan. The fact of the matter is that the City’s ordinance does nothing to reduce residents’ current exposure to toxic chemicals in the groundwater from the 5th & Hill site because: a) residents in the 5th & Hill neighborhood do not own or operate private water wells and have no intention of drinking the toxic groundwater, and are in fact already prohibited (by the 20 year-old City ordinance) from drilling private wells; and b) the residents’ and community’s risk of exposure to the toxic groundwater is not primarily from ingestion (drinking) but from inhalation of the vapors that are emitted from the groundwater and that travel up through the soil into the places where people live.

The City of Champaign should protect its residents from toxic groundwater and repeal the ordinance. If the City of Champaign were to repeal this ordinance, no harm would come to City residents, and the IL EPA  would have to force Ameren to come up with another strategy for “remediating” the toxic groundwater. By allowing the 2007 groundwater ordinance to stay on the books, the City of Champaign is letting Ameren and the IL EPA off the hook from having to come up with a real clean-up plan for the toxic groundwater at 5th & Hill. 5th and Hill residents deserve a clean and healthy neighborhood, free of toxins! We call on the City to repeal the ordinance!

Fill out the form below to add your name to the petition. Thank you!

Name:
Street address:
City: State: Zip:
Phone #:
Email:

Comments:

 

<< Return to main page