Making Democracy Work

Issues and Action - Featuring Briefings on Policies, Studies and Advocacy - Current Studies - Stormwater Consensus Study Slides, Agriculture, GRIT

Positions, Issues, and Action

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.

New Trier High School Referendum Consensus Study

Storm Water Management Local Study - CONSENSUS MEETING FEBRUARY, 2014 AND SEPTEMBER, 2014 FOLLOWUP

STORMWATER CONSENSUS STUDY FOLLOWUP

On Monday, September 29th, Brigitte Berger, the Director of Engineering for the Village of Wilmette presented the following slides during her presentation about current stormwater improvement plans for the Village.

Click here for the Village of Wilmette Stormwater Implrovement Plans

LWV STORMWATER STUDY REPORT-MAY 2014

The LWV Wilmette Stormwater Study grew out of the Board planning session in June, 2013. Then on June 18, Wilmette, in cooperation with other North Shore leagues, presented a community meeting on stormwater. Attendance was robust, an indication that this issue is a high priority with Village residents. The presenters included the MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District), the CNT (Center for Neighborhood Technology), the ILEPA (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency), and Illinois Coastal Management.

During the summer of 2013, several League members began to gather information by attending a field trip to the Deep Tunnel Project and by meeting with the CNT and the National Resource Defense Council. These agencies shared a wealth of information and helped to give direction to the upcoming study.

By September, 2013, the League study group was formed: Joanne Aggens, Nancy Canafax, Georgia Gebhardt, Trudy Gibbs, Joel Kurzman and Lali Watt. The study group researched the topic from September-December and developed a set of consensus questions. Group members attended the Lake Michigan LWV annual meeting in Kenosha, the Winnetka Deep Tunnel community meetings and the meeting of the NWMC Watershed Planning Council. Brigitte Berger, Wilmette Village engineer, met with the group numerous times to give background information and to answer questions. The product of this research and the consensus questions, including the results of the consensus meeting, may be accessed on the LWV Wilmette website (lwvwilmette.org).

Next steps: the 2014-2015 LWV Wilmette Board will be exploring how the League can take action on this position and advocate for improved stormwater policies/programs in the Village.

A presentation of the study questions and the research related to them, was presented to a sizable group which was able to come to consensus. That consensus will form the basis of a position that will allow the Wilmette League to advocate on matters related to Village stormwater policy.

  • An introduction to how stormwater is managed in Wilmette -- where our water goes; why stormwater has become more problematic as we experience more frequent, intense storms; and why we need to consider watersheds not just village boundaries when we talk about stormwater issues.
  • A review of the regulatory codes and ordinances within our community as well as those from external entities that impact how stormwater is managed in Wilmette
  • A presentation of established and emerging best practices for stormwater management, followed by a discussion of how best to plan an educational component for our findings.

The consensus part of the meeting was moderated by Gail Thomason. The objective is to try and reach consensus on the recommended path forward to address this growing problem.

There was participation of League members from neighboring Leagues. Their comments during the discussion session are often germane to problems and solutions they have encountered ahead of us. Voting during the consensus session is limited to Wilmette League members.

Members of the study group: Joanne Aggens, Nancy Canafax, Georgia Gebhardt, Trudy Gibbs, Joel Kurzman, Trish Nealon and Lali Watt.

Thanks to Dorothy Speidel recording the session. Below are the notes and CONSENSUS RESULTS.

25 people gathered for the Consensus meeting held at the Wilmette Public Library. There were a few guests but an overwhelming majority of attendees were Wilmette League members.

Georgia Gebhardt, as chairman of the Stormwater Study Committee, welcomed all and thanked the rest of the Committee members: Joanne Aggens, Nancy Canafax, Trudy Gibbs, Joel Kurzman, and Lali Watt. Questions were asked and answered during the presentations.

There were 100 pages of presentation materials. Presentation materials are available upon request.

Georgia presented:

Objectives of the Study included:

  • review the current status of stormwater management in Wilmette,
  • to understand outside entities whose regulations impact what the Village can or cannot do,
  • to review best practices, to evaluate Wilmette in the context of such practices
  • to determine what needs to happen, if anything, to move Wilmette towards better practices
  • to determine what the League's appropriate role is in this process.

Georgia went on to discuss:

  • Stormwater flooding from intense rain events
  • Stormwater is Often Highly Polluted
  • Why is stormwater pollution an issue?

Lali Watt presented:

  • Understanding Flooding
  • Stormwater Terminology
  • Runoff with Respect to Land Coverage
  • Gray infrastructure (pipes, tunnels, storage areas) vs. Green infrastructure (rain gardens, porous pavers, retention basins, and bioswales).
  • Ways to Increase Capacity to manage Stormwater During Intense Storms

Nancy Canafax presented:
  • Problems in Wilmette (old, undersized or leaky municipal pipes)
  • Stormwater Disposal Challenges
  • History and Development of Sewer System of Wilmette
  • Waste and Stormwater Disposal
  • - East of Ridge Road + combined sewers for waste and stormwater- theoretically all treated and ultimately discharged in the Gulf of Mexico. In intense storms, however, water flows into the North Shore Channel, etc.
  • - West of Ridge Road + all separate sanitary and stormwater sewers. Normal rainfall: no flooding issues but pollution in waterways
Intense rainfall: some neighborhoods experience backups in both systems.

  • To Address the Problem, the Source Matters: Research has shown that in as much as 70% of defect-related inflow and infiltration of stormwater in sanitary pipes in villages like Wilmette, the source is from private connections.
  • Types of Problems Identified in West Wilmette (Evaluations Made by consultants in 1988). Repairs were made by the Village and most property owners.
  • Ordinances: Cook County Cook County Watershed Stormwater Ordinance will go into effect 4/1/14. This ordinance will not apply to single family homes. It promotes the integration of green infrastructure into new developments and re-development of projects of more than one acre. It is not intended to solve problems, only to prevent making the situation worse.
Challenges in Addressing Stormwater Flooding in Wilmette:
  • Age of sewer system, scant funds for analysis and remediation
  • Imperfect understanding of problems and solutions by property owners, municipal oversight, and regional oversight.

Trudy Gibbs presented:

  • Best Practices: General Principles: Please see Presentation Materials.
  • Rain Ready Approaches for Managing Stormwater Flooding (Center for Neighborhood Technology).
  • Specific Best Practice Actions: Village
  • Specific Best Practice Actions: Property Owners
  • Best Practices + Summary for Municipalities
  • Best Practices + Pollution Reduction
  • Today's Problems often stem from yesterday's solutions
  • Wilmette does not have a Stormwater Plan. Glenview and other area villages do. Wilmette needs to get this right.

CONSENSUS QUESTIONS: WILMETTE STORMWATER STUDY

Gail Thomason, facilitator:

1. Should the Village create more incentives for property owners to execute plans to retain larger amounts of stormwater on their properties? YES

2. Should there be a sewer/stormwater fee assessed proportionate to the amount of the impervious surface of a property with a way to adjust the fee for mitigating factors (such as a rain garden or retention device)? (Now the sewer fee is based on water usage.) YES

It was suggested that property owners would have to appeal to the Village to get credit for good practices.

3. Should the Village of Wilmette set up a process (including a reporting mechanism) with neighboring villages and other governmental entities in the same watershed to seek common solutions? The purpose of this process is to seek common solutions that protect each entity's interests. YES

4. Should a Wilmette Comprehensive Stormwater Plan include target measures for success including, but not limited to, such things as a reduction in percentage of basements flooded, an increase in pervious surfaces and/or improvement in runoff water quality? YES

5. A representative cross section of property owners (including business and residential owners and flooded and non-flooded properties) should have an active involvement in every stage of the development of the Village of Wilmette Stormwater Master Plan. YES

6. Should LWV Wilmette create an Action Committee to advocate for the adopted consensus positions? YES

Managing Stormwater/Protecting Lake Michigan - Presentation October 21, 2014 RECAP

An Inter-League Stormwater Presentation was presented on October 21, 2014 at New Trier High School, Northfield Campus by the League of Women Voters of Wilmette, Winnetka-Northfield-Kenilworth, Glencoe, Glenview, Evanston, and League of Women Voters Lake Michigan.

Click here to read the Chicago Sun-Times article.

LWVIL Charter School Reassessment Study

LWV ILLINOIS CHARTER SCHOOL STUDY REPORT, A Re-examination

The LWVIL adopted a position on charter schools in 2001. It can be accessed at lwvil.org. Click on "Where We Stand." Because of the proliferation of charter schools and their apparent move away from the original mission, delegates attending the 2013 State convention voted to reopen this position and to direct a State committee to organize a study to either update or to replace the original position.

During the past year, members of the State committee have researched charter schools, interviewed officials from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools and the Illinois Charter School Commission, and visited numerous Chicago charter schools and where possible, their corresponding neighborhood public schools.

Consensus questions and related resources have been developed and are nearly ready for submission to the State Board. Those materials will be available over the summer for those who would like to get an early start on this work. This summer is also the time for local leagues to form their study committees. Actual work will begin in the fall with a deadline for the consensus completion in January.

Look for the call to participate in this study in an upcoming issue of the LWVWilmette League Bulletin. Questions about the Stormwater Study or the upcoming Charter School Study can be directed to Georgia Gebhardt (gtgebhardt@comcast.net) or call (847)853-8225 or (847)989-8225 (cell). Submitted, May, 2014 by Georgia Gebhardt

Agriculture Study

Agriculture Study

The Agriculture Study is on hold, pending a decision from the League of Women Voters US. It's hoped that national will allow this study to move into the next two-year cycle, because there was insufficient time to do this study by the April deadline.

Suggested Reading before the study begins: Three documents and three websites are suggested and can be found on the LWVUS website.

The League of Women Voters Has a Position on the Graduated Rate Income Tax (GRIT) for Illinois

FROM THE STATE LEAGUE

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

To the elected officials from the 9th senate district and 17th and 18th house districts:

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,

Lali Watt

President, LWV Wilmette

For more information from the LWVIL, click here.

To read about a recent presentation on our Observer Corps Page, click here.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF WILMETTE PRESENTED the film LIQUID ASSETS AND DISCUSSION ON SEPTEMBER 24, 2013

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF WILMETTE PRESENTED LIQUID ASSETS FILM AND DISCUSSION ON SEPTEMBER 24, 2013

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.

Ms. Mayerhofer:

  • Explained the structure and function of Wilmette's systems. The Village has a combined sewer and stormwater system east of Ridge Road and separate storm and sewer systems west of Ridge Road.
  • Gave us a review of Wilmette's stormwater management plan.
  • Debunked myths about the locks and storm water in Wilmette.
  • Shared news of past and proposed sewer infrastructure investments.
  • Discussed some resources available to homeowners.

Ms.Mayerhofer noted that within our village issues vary by neighborhood based on specific geography and geology. The Village is planning community meetings for outreach and education purposes regarding stormwater.

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.

  • Relevant Resources

Interested in learning more? The film is available for check out at the Wilmette Public Library. Also, please see information on Liquid Assets film content, related resources, and video clips at http://www.liquidassets.psu.edu.

A reading list compiled by the Library is below..

  • Questions? Contact our speakers at:

mayerhoferb@wilmette.com and

quafishehN@wilmette.com.

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 REPORT
"Down in the Dumps"
Reporters: Trudy Gibbs (LWV Wilmette), Laurie Morse and Roberta Ury (LWV Glencoe), Judith Royal (LWV Arlington Heights)

Date 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.

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?