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Recently in Environment Category

It has been well over a month since the Gulf oil spill first began, and the oil shows no signs of stopping, with estimates of 10 million to 40 million gallons of oil already spilled. It has been called the worst environmental distaster in U.S. history.

Worse, nothing that is tried seems to be able to stop the spill, and an effective solution may be months away. Meanwhile, wildlife is dying and ecosystems are being destroyed.

Has this incident changed your opinion of the government or the other parties involved? How about your opinion of offshore drilling?

Warrenville residents turned out Monday night to hear DuPage County officials explain why flooding was so bad in their community last week. And it turns out that no, it wasn't because the Fawell Dam was controlled in such a way to keep all the water upstream and out of Naperville, they said. It was just that there was an awful lot of water in places that drain into the West Branch of the DuPage River.

Sounds logical enough. Still, Warrenville was hit a lot harder during this flood than Naperville, and residents had their say. High water washed out three bridges, effectively cutting Warrenville in half for days. Some residents said they had to be evacuated, and were unhappy with what they said was poor communication by city officials.

What should Warrenville, Naperville and DuPage County learn from this experience? Should the Warrenville Road, Butterfield Road and Williams Street bridges be replaced with higher structures? How could city and county authorities better communicate with residents during emergencies like this?

There's nothing like a long bicycle ride on a beautiful summer weekend day. And the Naperville Park District wants to make sure that routes for that long ride or run easily lead from the city to other surrounding cities. Officials even are developing a master plan and want residents to offer input in the process. The Sun talked to some residents like Tim Ward who uses the trails frequently for biking and walking. "To get out of the town and into the woods - the peace and serenity of it all," he said.

How do you think the district should improve Naperville's trails? How safe are the intersections and roads that connect to the trails? What routes would you like created or made safer? What are the best trails now or your favorite route?

The sound of gushing water filled the basement of Benjamin Moore Paints around noon Monday. Manager Louis Kussman had rushed to move boxes of drapes and paper products to high shelves when water started leaking into the downtown Naperville store Sunday morning. Even after the rain stopped early Monday morning, the water continued to creep up. "Until the river goes down, this ain't going down," said Kussman, standing on the fourth step of the basement stairs and looking at the two feet of water covering the floor. While water was just below the first step around 9 a.m., it had nearly reached the third step 3 ½ hours later, he said.

Stories like this one told by staff reporter Paige Winfield paint a vivid picture. We'd like to share your story about the weekend flooding. Was your wedding or birthday party put on hold? What's the situation at your house, and in your neighborhood? Do you have water in your basement? Are you affected by closed roads, or flooding in your neighborhood? (If you have pictures, send them to photooftheday@scn1.com.) What do you think of the response by city and other emergency officials?

Northern Illinois remained under a flash flood watch Saturday, as Naperville activated its Emergency Operation Center and reported some roads were impassable due to heavy rains.

Still, other communities appear to be much more affected by the flooding Saturday. Naperville is experiencing some problems, but the situation here does not appear to be as bad as it is in other towns.

More rain is forecast for Sunday, as Illinois is expected to be hit by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

What's the situation at your house, and in your neighborhood? Do you have water in your basement? Are you affected by closed roads, or flooding in your neighborhood? (If you have pictures, send them to photooftheday@scn1.com.) What do you think of the response by city and other emergency officials?

City Council members Bob Fieseler (who comments on the Potluck forum as Councilman Bob) and Grant Wehrli want Naperville to partner with Argonne National Laboratory and Packer Engineering to develop alternative energy technologies such as hydrogen in citywide departments.

The initiative could also involve partnerships with public and private organizations to invite auto makers of hydrogen-powered cars to work in Naperville because of its technical talent base and the city's emphasis on clean energy sources.

We're talking not only the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles by, for example, the public works department, but possibly a hydrogen plant that would generate electricity.

Should Naperville pursue consideration of these ideas? How well is the city embracing alternative energy solutions--far more than other communities, well enough, so-so, or not nearly well enough? What level of taxpayer-funded commitment do you think the city of Naperville should make to renewable energy solutions?

Congratulations customers of Naperville's electric utility. You've helped make the city's alternative-energy program one of the top 10 in the nation! By voluntarily forking over an extra $5 to $15 a month, you've helped Naperville achieve a participation rate of about 7 percent, when the national norm in places that offer such programs is about 2 percent.

Naperville's green-energy program primarily uses wind power to augment the more traditional forms that generate power, which, in Illinois means burning coal, mainly.

Our discussion on this topic is twofold: First, we want to know if you participate in Naperville's green-energy program. If so, why do you freely pay extra, and if you don't participate, why not?

Second, what do you think about the future of the nation's energy programs? How do you feel about nuclear power? How important is it to you to try to be carbon neutral in your energy consumption?

If so, you might be the culprit behind long wait times at Naperville's emissions testing site. On May 1 the IEPA closed several testing facilities in the state, including the one at 5106 Walnut Ave. in Downers Grove. Since then, the volume of vehicles passing through the Naperville facility at 435 Weston Ridge Road has spiked considerably.
According to Ron Wohrle, operations manager of the vehicle emissions test program for the IEPA, in April 8,446 vehicles were tested at the site. In May the number jumped to 11,569 vehicles, and in June the total reached 14,361 vehicles. Although there has been an increase in the number of vehicles tested at the Naperville station, test volume is still below station capacity, Wohrle said. Motorists are encouraged to test as soon as possible when they receive a test notice and to avoid the end of the month.
During June the peak wait-time hours in Naperville were between noon and 3 p.m. about 10 minutes. The shortest wait time for Naperville was between 8 and 10 a.m., Wohrle said. Then the wait was 2 to 3 minutes. For the first week of July, the average wait time for Naperville was also seven minutes. The peak wait time was between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., with a wait of 10 to 14 minutes. The shortest time during that week was between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. with a wait of four to six minutes.

Do you wait till just before the deadline to test your car and then wonder why the lines are so long? What was your last experience at a testing site? Do the IEPA's wait-time numbers jive with the last time you went to the testing center?

The bad news is, there are a lot of mosquitoes this year because of rains we've had. The good news is, it's not as bad in Naperville as in other communities, and these aren't the mosquitoes that carry West Nile.

Naperville spent about $132,000 battling mosquitoes last year. How well is the city doing? Should the city do more? Spend less? Or has the city got this one just right? What's been your experience with mosquitoes and mosquito control?

A report in Sunday's Sun describes what local governments are doing about high fuel prices. The city of Naperville, for example, says its cut fuel consumption by 6 percent in recent years by reducing the number of vehicles in its fleet, buying fuel wholesale, and taking other steps. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is using alternative fuels. The Naperville Park District is telling workers not to leave vehicles idling.

What do you think -- are these steps enough? Remember not long ago when a whistleblower told DuPage County Board members how public works employees were filling up personal vehicles with gas paid for by county taxpayers? And that was before $4 a gallon gas. How confident are you that there are no thefts by employees taking place now?

What are you doing to cut your own personal fuel consumption? What do you think government agencies should do to reduce fuel costs?

Naperville Potluck

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