League advocacy begins with members selecting, studying and seeking consensus on issues which are of public concern. When consensus is achieved, the League has a position. The League uses its positions to advocate for policies, legislation and ballot measures which it believes would best serve the public interest and against proposals which are in conflict with those goals.
The League of Women Voters of Wilmette, Wilmette Public Library, and Go Green Wilmette presented an abridged viewing of the film Liquid Assets, followed by a discussion of community and regional water management issues. Almost 40 people including State Senator Daniel Biss attended LWV Wilmette's Liquid Assets program on September 24 at Wilmette Library. The program raised community awareness about management of national and local water systems infrastructure.
Our program's format was a combined presentation of selected film clips from the documentary Liquid Assets followed by presentations from Wilmette's Director of Engineering Brigitte Mayerhofer and Nabil Quafisheh, Superintendent of Wilmette's Water Plant.
Penn State Public Broadcasting produced Liquid Assets as a public media and outreach initiative. The film outlines the public water supply's crucial roles in maintaining public health, public safety, and the economy, using examples from communities of all sizes and locations throughout the country, each with its own challenges. The audience viewed specific segments highlighting the value of water, the evolution of provision of safe drinking water and removal of waste and stormwater; management and rehabilitation of aging systems, and a section highlighting 21st century solutions for maintaining our water infrastructure. A common theme emerged: we need to care for our water resources.
How is all this relevant to our own community? Following the film, Brigitte Mayerhofer provided the audience with important information about Wilmette's sewer system.
Mr. Quafisheh showed an interactive DVD as he explained how water is obtained from Lake Michigan, treated, filtered, stored, and delivered to our homes as safe drinking water. He emphasized that the plant and all systems operate according to standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The process begins with lake water intakes that reach out approximately one mile from the plant into the Lake Michigan. Water flows to the plant by gravity, where is undergoes a multistep process before it is ready to become our drinking water. Our plant produces drinking water for both Wilmette and Glenview (70% of the water that Wilmette produces is for Glenview; many of us did not know that!).
Finally the speakers welcomed audience questions and addressed a variety of broad and specific issues.
A reading list compiled by the Library is below..
To see streaming video from Village of Wilmette on Wilmette's Sewers and Stormwater, click the link to the Wilmette's Website. Timeline:
The following is an excerpt from an OBSERVER CORPS REPORTDate of tour: August 10th Organizing group: The Southeast Environmental Task Force Daunting and Unsustainable A group of sixty participants, speakers, and organizers toured the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, three closed landfills, a major solid waste transfer station, and a public golf course built on top of a closed landfill. For years, the southeast side of Chicago has been the dumping grounds for residential, industrial, and commercial waste from the City of Chicago and the 125 adjacent communities (including Wilmette). Initially, all that wastewater and solid waste ended up in the bogs and marshes of the wetlands surrounding E. 130th street. In recent times, much progress has been made in waste management, but much of the brunt of what is flushed, run off, and tossed is still processed in southeast Chicago. The work it takes to manage the huge volumes of wastewater and mountains of trash is both daunting and, ultimately, unsustainable.
"Down in the Dumps"
Reporters: Trudy Gibbs (LWV Wilmette), Laurie Morse and Roberta Ury (LWV Glencoe), Judith Royal (LWV Arlington Heights)
Wastewater and Stormwater
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) now has seven treatment plants to handle wastewater and stormwater spread throughout the greater Chicago area. The Calumet plant is the oldest in continuous operation. Upgrades and expansion have made it possible for this plant alone to handle up to 354 million gallons of combined wastewater and stormwater per day. The process of cleanup begins with a screening system to remove large debris -- objects that could damage pumps and other mechanical equipment. From there, the wastewater is pumped into a series of processing units to remove dissolved and finely dispersed pollutants. Grit is removed by centrifugation. Dissolved and finely dispersed pollutants are removed by introducing special mixes of microorganisms with and without the use of aeration features and digestion chambers. Much of the those steps involve letting the "sludge" settle and siphoning off the salvaged water. Although plans are in place to add disinfection features to "sterilize" the effluent before it is discharged into the Little Calumet River/Cal-Sag Channel, the new facilities will not be operational until December of 2015. Current tables buried within MWRD publications show that some ozone and chlorine are now use to treat the effluent. After leaving the channel, the treated water flows into the Illinois River, then the Mississippi, and finally into the Gulf of Mexico. MWRDGC claims to remove 90% of the pollutants entering the plant, but our guide from the plant did not discuss the extent to which the effluent is actually tested or how often testing occurs. We were left wondering whether the 10% residual pollution is actually harmless, and why improved forms of sterilization were not put in place long ago?
Agriculture Study Focus:
Thus far, the following members have volunteered for the Agriculture Study: Trudy Gibbs, Judy Mandel, Trish Nealon, Gail Thomason, Lali Watt and Georgia Gebhardt.
Timeline: Study and consensus meetings will take place January-April 1, 2014 Deadline for consensus reports is April 4, 2014. May, 2014- Consensus result or new position statement is announced.
FYI: There is a clearing house for studies on the national website: http://clearinghouse.lwv.org where you can see a list of league studies that have been done across the country
The LWV IL is supportive of a constitutional amendment which is necessary to amend graduated rate income taxes and we therefore wrote to our legislators expressing our support.
The League of Women Voters of Illinois has prepared a succinct pamphlet explaining the League position on GRIT. Click here for pamphlet.
Letter sent to our elected officials, Senator Daniel Biss, Representative Laura Fine and Representative Robyn Gabel
Legislation (HJRCA 33/SJRCA 40) is pending in Springfield for a constitutional amendment on a fair tax allowing for higher rates on higher incomes and lower rates on lower incomes. The League of Women Voters of Illinois supports this plan, rather than the regressive flat tax now imposed in Illinois.
LWVIL believes this amendment will bring fairness to Illinois' tax code, helping Illinois' middle-class families. It will help Illinois protect key priorities, such as education, public safety, healthcare, and human services. These vital services have been woefully shortchanged in recent years because of Illinois' systemic budget problems; the result of an out-of-date tax code which overburdens middle class taxpayers.
The legislation embodies another important principle: citizen participation. If adopted by the General Assembly, this referendum would ask Illinois voters if they want to amend the 1970 Illinois Constitution, which currently states that personal income tax must be non-graduated (flat). Passing this amendment will provide Illinois voters the chance to play a role in this process.
The LWVIL knows it's time for long-term budget solutions to help rebuild Illinois' economy and provide sustained support to programs and services that people need. Adoption of a fair tax achieves these goals. We request that you support efforts to achieve a constitutional amendment on a fair tax in Illinois.
Thank you for your work on our behalf and your attention to this issue.
With best regards,
President, LWV Wilmette
For more information from the LWVIL, click here.
To read about a recent presentation on our Observer Corps Page, click here.