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Environmental Progress - Winter-Spring 2004

IEPA Funds Watershed Protection and Enhancement Grants

Five organizations are awarded grants

Five organizations that are working to improve the quality of streams and lakes in Southwestern and Central Illinois were presented $50,000 grants from an environmental enforcement case settlement by Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Renee Cipriano in November 2003.

Photo: Living Lands and Waters barge.

The Living Lands and Waters barge, home to an organization of the same name that was recognized for improving the quality of the Mississippi River and the Illinois River.

The announcements were made near a barge moored in the Mississippi River that is operated by the nationally-known "Living Lands and Waters" organization, that received one of the grants. The barge goes up and down the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and working with local citizens, picks up trash along the shore, plants trees and provides environmental education.

The funds are a "Supplemental Environmental Project" (SEP) that was a part of a large enforcement settlement case that provided support for environmental projects in the Southwestern and Central portions of the state.

"With the current fiscal crisis facing state government, more than ever we will be looking to SEPs as a source of funding for important efforts like the ones we are announcing today," Director Cipriano said.

Illinois EPA recently launched a "SEP Idea Bank" seeking suggestions from citizens and interested groups for projects that could potentially be incorporated into future enforcement case settlements. Suggestions may be "deposited" through the Illinois EPA web site.

After announcing the grants to representatives of the five organizations, Director Cipriano, Living Lands and Waters founder and President Chad Pregracke and other guests participated in a tree planting in Alton's Riverfront Park.

The grant award to Living Lands and Waters will be used to help facilitate river cleanups and the River Bottom Forest Restoration Project, which will protect the watersheds by reducing nonpoint source pollution that enters the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The river cleanups are community-based and involve local volunteer participation from diverse communities. Through direct, hands-on experience, volunteers observe the effects that litter, erosion and siltation have on water quality.

The other grant awards were to:

  • Lake Shelbyville Wastewater Treatment Feasibility Study to be conducted by the Kaskaskia Watershed Association. It will fund a feasibility and design study for a regional waste treatment facility.The benefit to water quality would include decreasing the delivery of nutrients to the lake and surrounding streams through a reduction of septic systems in the watershed.
  • Kaskaskia River Water Quality Databank project will be developed by the Southwestern Illinois Resource Conservation and Development Council. It will be used to develop a GIS-based water quality database that captures water quality information for the entire Kaskaskia River watershed. The data will be combined with other information sources to create maps to help implement protection and restoration strategies in the watershed.
  • Big and Long Creek Watershed Planning initiative will be carried out by the Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District. The District and its partners, including the Upper Sangamon River Watershed Committee and the City of Decatur, will use data from a monitoring station to assist in watershed protection and restoration planning.
  • Lake Tayorville Water Quality and Quantity Planning Project will be carried out by the Lake Taylorville Resource Planning Committee. It will look at a variety of issues including land use and zoning, lake development planning and infrastructure and community and economic development in the lake's 84,000 acre watershed.

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