Tools for groundwater protection planning: An example from McHenry County, Illinois, USA

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This paper presents an approach for producing aquifer sensitivity maps from three-dimensional geologic maps, called stack-unit maps. Stack-unit maps depict the succession of geologic materials to a given depth, and aquifer sensitivity maps interpret the successions according to their ability to transmit potential contaminants. Using McHenry County, Illinois, as a case study, stack-unit maps and an aquifer sensitivity assessment were made to help land-use planners, public health officials, consultants, developers, and the public make informed decisions regarding land use. A map of aquifer sensitivity is important for planning because the county is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, and highly vulnerable sand and gravel aquifers occur within 6 m of ground surface over 75% of its area. The aquifer sensitivity map can provide guidance to regulators seeking optimal protection of groundwater resources where these resources are particularly vulnerable. In addition, the map can be used to help officials direct waste-disposal and industrial facilities and other sensitive land-use practices to areas where the least damage is likely to occur, thereby reducing potential future liabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1999


  • Aquifer sensitivity
  • Aquifers
  • Geologic mapping
  • Groundwater
  • Land-use planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


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