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Investigate Midwest to hold discussion on water use issues next Thursday

As many of you know, the Midwest (and any crop-growing region of the world) uses a ton of water – which could be concerning given recent water shortages on America’s West Coast. Given that this is an essential component to our way of life, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting will be hosting a panel discussion next Thursday, August 24th, about this very issue, and how it may affect Central Illinois.

For more information, check out the description below. RSVP’s can be found here, and are recommended. The panel will take place at the Champaign Public Library from 7 – 9 pm.

The State Water Survey estimates that Illinois could need between 20 percent and 50 percent more water in the coming decades. The number of irrigation pivots in Champaign County has already doubled in the last five years. Some experts worry that this rise, along with the absence of laws regulating groundwater resources in the state, could spell trouble during periods of drought.

Join the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and a panel of experts for a free community conversation about irrigation in Illinois, current regulations, and what it means for the future of farming as the state’s shifting climate becomes less predictable.

Brant Houston, Knight Chair of Investigative Reporting, Journalism Department at the College of Media, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, will moderate.

The event is free but RSVP required. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information, contact Anna Casey at (217) 239-6617 or by email at [email protected]

Did you know?

  • There are no laws regulating limited groundwater resources.
  • There are no laws governing any potential conflicts over groundwater.
  • Farmers were not required to report irrigation totals until 2015, and today, less than half of irrigation use is reported.
  • There are no restrictions on the installation of irrigation systems, meaning anyone can install a system without considering how it will impact groundwater supply.
  • No one knows exactly where the water is being extracted. There are about 500,000 documented wells in Illinois, even though there are likely between 800,000 and 1 million wells in use, according to the Illinois State Water Survey. There are less than 8,000 irrigation wells.

Read our series on irrigation issues here.


George Roadcap, hydrogeologist at Illinois State Water Survey

John N. Ferguson, plant biologist at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois

Jack Paxton, professor emeritus of plant pathology at the University of Illinois, and past instructor of “Agricultural Ethics” and “Human Impact on the Environment”


Brant Houston, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois


The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Illinois Humanities, CU-CitizenAccess and Knight Chair of Investigative Reporting, Journalism Department at the College of Media, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Illinois Humanities engagement fellowship at the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting aims to strengthen connections and build collaboration between journalists and the communities they cover.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is a non-profit newsroom based in Champaign that covers agribusiness and related topics such as government, environment and energy.

CU-CitizenAccess is a community online news and information project based at the University of Illinois College of Media devoted to investigative and enterprise coverage of social, justice and economic issues in east central Illinois.

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