Tag: Lake Michigan

EPA Finalizes New WOTUS Rule

EPA Finalizes New WOTUS Rule

By: Joseph Garza


Federal agencies take actions to clarify conflicting legal standards set by the Supreme Court that have divided Circuit Courts for decades. The ongoing legal question regarding the definition of a “Water of the United States” (“WOTUS”) in the context of Clean Water Act (“CWA”) enforcement and implementation may seemingly have been answered. On January 18, 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”) announced the finalization of the “Revised Definition of the WOTUS” rule (the “New Rule”).[i] EPA’s hope in promulgating the New Rule is to solve confusion caused by Rapanos v. U.S. The definition of a WOTUS is crucial to CWA practice because it determines the scope of the CWA’s reach. Only a WOTUS will receive the CWA’s protections. It is crucial for all who work with the CWA to have a clear understanding of the definition of WOTUS.

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Copi, the Fish Formally Known as Asian Carp; a Rebranding to Save the Great Lakes

Asian CarpCopi, The Fish Formally Known as Asian Carp; a Rebranding to Save the Great Lakes


By: Blythe Pabon

To protect the Great Lakes from Asian Carp, Illinois officials are turning to a strategy struggling artists have used for decades, a rebrand. [1] The Illinois Department of Natural Resources hired local Chicago Communication Studio, Span, with the crisis focused rebrand. [2] Asian Carp is an invasive species and poses substantial harm to Lake Michigan’s ecosystem, which provides drinking water for over half of the state of Illinois.[3] In its rebranding campaign, Span highlighted the truths about Asian carp, including how Asian Carp is the second healthiest fish in the world. In fact, the truth about Asian Carp’s copious and invasive nature inspired the new name, Copi.[4]

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Microplastics in Chicago: The Issue and What is to be Done

Microplastics in ChicagoMicroplastics in Chicago: The Issue and What is to be Done

By: Jacob Regan

Microplastics are increasingly becoming a larger focal point in the discussion of pollution across the globe, including Chicago. The field of microplastic research is burgeoning. They are the subject of the worst environmental debacle in Sri Lankan history–the MV X-Press Pearl Disaster.[1] One estimate indicates that people consume a credit card’s worth of plastic a week.[2] A study found microplastics on 73% of beaches on Lake Michigan.[3] This is something with which Chicagoans and residents of Illinois must reckon.

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Chicago is Losing its Duel with Climate Change: Water Levels Rise and Infrastructure Fails

By: Caitlin Federici

A warming climate has led to drastic swings in the water levels of Lake Michigan. Warmer temperatures lead to more evaporation and record-low water levels.[1] Colder temperatures mean reduced evaporation and greater ice cover resulting in record-high water levels.[2] While climate change causes the earth’s climate to trend warmer on average, these trends do not always manifest in a linear fashion. For instance, when warm air from the tropics moves too far north, it can disrupt the balance of the polar vortex sending blasts of arctic air much farther south than it would otherwise reach.[3] In Chicago, an unstable polar vortex equates to frigid winters and rising levels in Lake Michigan; multiple consecutive years of such instability can produce record-high water levels.[4]

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Did Joliet Make the Right Choice for its Drinking Water Supply?

The city of Joliet (“City”), the fourth largest city in Illinois, has decided to secure its drinking water from Chicago instead of Hammond, Indiana.[i] Joliet has historically been dependent on groundwater, pumping from the Ironton Galesville aquifer at an unsustainable rate.[ii] The City has known since the 1960s that the pumping rate exceeds the rate of recharge into the aquifer.[iii] Estimates show the aquifer will likely run dry by the year 2030, forcing the City to seek out alternatives.[iv]

Joliet examined fourteen alternative water sources in Phase I of its exploration.[v] During Phase II, five sources were studied in more detail to replace the existing water source in Joliet, including several municipal Lake Michigan intake systems and the Kankakee and Illinois Rivers.

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