water flowing out of a faucet filling a water glass that someone's hand is holdingAlthough three-fourths of the Earth is covered by water, less than one percent of all water is available for human use. This scant one percent is found in our lakes, rivers, and aquifers and, as population grows and weather becomes more variable, fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce.

In Illinois, water supplies are unlikely to disappear in the near future, but projections by the Illinois State Water Survey show that water supplies will be unable to keep up with population growth in urban areas. Extracting fresh water from surface and subsurface sources will become more difficult and more costly as our demand for water grows. If municipalities do not look at alternative water resources and implement stronger conservation measures, there could be significant shortages in the region, impacting human use as well as aquatic systems.

This makes research into reducing water consumption in Illinois more important than ever. Preserving the water supply will result in obvious benefits for human and wildlife populations, but innovative conservation techniques will also provide the added incentive of significant cost savings. In addition to examining ways to reduce water consumption, ISTC researchers are investigating novel reuse of wastewater in the industrial and business sectors and they are investigating water quality issues in the industrial, business, and residential sectors.