College of Lake County's effort to further Illinois' "green" economy now includes an employee who will focus on water-related initiatives.
For a little more than a month, Cassandra McKinney has worked as director of CLC's new Green Economy and Sustainable Water Center. She had been McHenry County government's water resources manager before moving to Grayslake-based CLC.
Part of McKinney's job will entail creation of programs for individuals and businesses in Lake County interested in operating in a green economy. She said the program possibilities could include a community workshop on water conservation.
It's not just the environmentally conscious who may be interested in water conservation lessons, she said. Such a program may appeal to those looking to save a few bucks.
"The price of water is going to increase," McKinney said Friday. "Historically, we haven't been charging the true cost of water."
CLC's Green Economy and Sustainable Water Center is part of an effort with a consortium of 16 other colleges. Known as the Illinois Green Economy Network, the group received a $19.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in September 2011.
Those colleges have been encouraged to provide training in green economy industries through traditional and online classroom instruction. In March, CLC agreed to spend $1.23 million for a new learning platform to allow students to work with 3-D simulators and virtual reality scenarios in areas such as weatherproofing a home.
CLC board Chairman Richard Anderson said the school ultimately plans to work with the University of Illinois on study of the Great Lakes as part of the Green Economy and Sustainable Water Center.
If the college expands as planned in downtown Waukegan, he said, space would be available for U of I scientists and CLC professors to collaborate on research and developing courses on keeping the Great Lakes sustainable. CLC's Waukegan campus is near Lake Michigan.
Along with her new role at CLC, McKinney serves on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's Northern Regional Groundwater Protection Planning Committee and the Northwest Water Planning Alliance.