This is Simon Review #52.


Although politically Illinois has recently been plagued with an extensive budget crisis and stalemate on how to overcome its large deficits, Illinois as a state is fortunate in its exceptional natural geography which provides both abundant fresh water resources and fertile agricultural soils (Lant, 2005). As such, Illinois plays an important role in the global water crisis as a water supplier through its exports of crops which consume vast quantities of water. The state is a leading exporter of corn, soybeans, and swine, and through these commodities is supplying what many experts call “virtual water” to the world. Virtual water is “the amount of embedded water or hidden water used to produce agricultural and industrial goods” (Kehl, 2011, 83). Illinois alone provides more virtual water through its exports than most countries and constitutes 11% of the U.S virtual water exports (Lant, 2005). With such a unique location that allows for easily navigable water based transportation through our access to lakes and rivers and resources that include inherently fertile soils that receive plentiful precipitation, it is imperative that Illinois remains a powerful supplier of water and foods through its exports. Additionally, it calls for an added responsibility and determination to practice sustainable agricultural water practices so that Illinois’ future abilities as a virtual water provider/supplier will not be diminished in years to come.