Pat Quinn, Governor
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Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
The Citizens’ Bulletin
Volume 9, Issue 2 – Spring 2013
In This Issue…
Welcome To The Citizens’ Bulletin!
Welcome to the Illinois EPA's Citizens' Bulletin. We are pleased to present our electronic environmental newsletter created specifically for the citizens of Illinois. The Citizens' Bulletin is a component of our ongoing effort to carry out Governor Pat Quinn's commitment to making state government more responsive to citizens by using technology such as the Internet.
We created this e-newsletter to provide you with useful information, such as Green Tips, a regular feature offering tips and ideas you can use to prevent pollution and protect the environment. Events, another regular feature, will include public hearings, workshops, conferences and events that offer opportunities for you to get involved. A schedule of events will also be available on our website and will be regularly updated. Each issue will include articles about Illinois EPA programs and activities to keep you informed.
We hope that this newsletter provides you with comprehensive news, events, and helpful hints. We welcome your feedback and your ideas of how we may better serve you.
Renewable Energy Source as a Means of Reducing Ag Waste and Protecting Local Water Quality
Water quality is a major concern in Clinton County, with many miles of streams within the western portion of the county listed as impaired with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) 303(d) listing. Concerns include excess phosphorous, bacteria (fecal coliform) and sedimentation. Agriculture, including livestock operations, is a contributing factor towards these excessive nutrient and sediment loads. Clinton County is one of the leading dairy producing counties within the state of Illinois.
Several previous efforts have been undertaken in an effort to reduce nutrient and sediment loads within western Clinton County, including:
A Total Maximum Daily Load report has been prepared for Shoal Creek and Sugar Creek/Lake Branch. Lake Branch Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) Implementation, Clinton County Livestock Nutrient Management Project, and in 2002, HeartLands Conservancy, with the assistance of SIU Carbondale, completed a water quality databank for the Kaskaskia River watershed. Data collected details a 20 year trend in water quality at 14 key points within the watershed.
Recently, an advisory committee, representing the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, the University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center, the Illinois Green Economy Network of the Illinois Community College Network, the Clinton County Soil & Water District and local farmers has been assembled to work towards the implementation of a comprehensive feasibility study regarding the development of a community based approach to manure management and methane recovery that would be capable of serving multiple farms within western Clinton County.
Significant effort has been made in educating producers on the water quality issues, as well as the opportunities that a community management approach may offer. The advisory committee has assembled the following scope of work, and funding necessary, to complete a comprehensive feasibility study related to the development of a community based manure methane digester to help combat these issues while providing a renewable energy sources in southern Illinois.
An anaerobic digester could provide not only a safe method for managing dairy farm manure, it may also provide for demonstration of anaerobic digestion technology as a viable source of renewable energy with organic materials as feedstock. This project may serve to educate and encourage those with an interest in developing this rapidly growing area of the "clean economy". An anaerobic digester is a natural biological (bacterial) process that primarily converts organic carbon from large molecules (carbohydrates, sugars, fats and proteins) to simple molecules (carbon dioxide, methane, water and biomass). The conversion is part the carbon cycle that when properly applied can effectively assist in sustainable, economical, environmentally balanced and neighbor friendly agricultural practices. The primary advantages are energy recovery, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, odor mitigation, and nutrient management. Anaerobic digestion of animal manures process yields biogas, a combustible gas comprised of CH4, CO2, and low concentrations of H2O vapor, NH3, and H2S. The CH4 may be used as an energy source for burning as heat or as a fuel for internal combustion engines to generate electricity. Digested manure effluent and biosolids may be used as fertilizer and animal feed supplements.
Organic waste such as livestock manure and various types of bacteria are put in an airtight container called digester so the process could occur. Depending on the waste feedstock and the system design, biogas is typically 55 to 75 percent pure methane. The process of anaerobic digestion consists of three steps: The first step is the decomposition (hydrolysis) of plant or animal matter. This step breaks down the organic material to usable-sized molecules such as sugar. The second step is the conversion of decomposed matter to organic acids. And finally, the acids are converted to methane gas, which is then captured and used as an energy source.
Air Quality Awareness Week: April 29 - May 3
The U.S. EPA has established Air Quality Awareness Week to educate the public about the affects of air quality on citizen's health. The Illinois EPA will also celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week in Illinois.
When there is pollution in the air, it puts all people at risk, especially children with asthma, the elderly, and people with respiratory and cardiovascular ailments. Log on to Partners for Clean Air to learn more about ozone and particulate matter, the health effects of air pollution, and ways to reduce emission and clean the air.
Earth Day/Earth Month
Earth Day – April 22
Every year on April 22 people from around the world celebrate the need for a healthy sustainable environment. It all started in 1970 when over 20 million people said enough is enough. On April 22, 1970, Americans declared that they deserved a better, healthier world that was free from all of the oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife. However, even though is it impossible to completely rid the earth of these things due to various reasons, there has been a tremendous amount of progress in all aspects of the environment. Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day founder, was concerned about the lack of environmental issues within the political arena. Being a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, he proposed the first nationwide environmental protest "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda." "It was a gamble," he recalls, "but it worked." Earth Day was born. (Information provided by earthday network). More information about Earth Day’s birth can be found on Envirolink’s web site, “How the First Earth Day Came About.” For a timeline of Environmental Progress, visit U.S. EPA’s Earth Day web page.
Earth Month – April
Citizens should be aware of environmental issues more than one day a year. As a result, the U.S. EPA has declared April as Earth Month! Visit U.S. EPA’s web site to find daily environmental tips and check out the Pick Five program. The six broad categories provides actions that can help reduce waste, energy consumption, water usage, environmental advocacy and many more. Also, Check your local media resources for Earth Day events in your area, or start your own event. You can also try a search on Earth Day Network’s web site for events.
Spring is here! Head outside for some fresh air.
The temperature outside is rising and flowers are beginning to bloom. As you head outside to enjoy the fresh air, keep these facts and tips in mind.
Walk, bike, or carpool whenever possible. By parking your vehicle for one day, the average driver would keep just over ¼ pound of pollution out of the air. While that may not seem like much, if every registered vehicle in the state was parked for one day, emissions would decrease by 2.6 million pounds or 1,300 tons that day.
When a car is at idle, emissions of carbon monoxide are at their highest. As speed increases, it drops dramatically, but increases again with speeds over 50 mph. (Source: EPA) Vehicle emissions can be reduced by simply keeping the engine properly tuned and tires properly inflated. This could save drivers up to $119 per year (based on 10,000 miles at $3.75/gallon.)
Each year, residential lawnmowers emit tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, equivalent to tens of thousands of vehicles. Replace your gas powered lawnmower with a new electric, rechargeable or non-motorized mower. For every 1,000 lawnmowers replaced, the emission reduction will be equivalent to removing approximately 230 vehicles from the road in metropolitan areas.
U.S. EPA Provides New SepticSmart Program
U.S. EPA’s new SepticSmart program promotes proper septic system care and maintenance in order to help the environment and save homeowners money. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 25 percent of U.S. households–more than 26 million homes–and almost one-third of new developments are serviced by septic systems. U.S. EPA launched SepticSmart to educate homeowners about proper daily system use and the need for periodic septic system maintenance.
Some of the resources on the website, which can be found on U.S. EPA‘s website, include when to get an inspection and how to prepare for one, how to use water efficiently so that less water is flowing through the septic system, tips for proper waste disposal, and how to maintain the drainfield. SepticSmart also provides industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations with tools and materials that will help them educate their clients and residents.
2013 Fuel Economy Guide Released
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2013 Fuel Economy Guide. The 2013 models include efficient and low-emission vehicles in a variety of classes and sizes, but notable this year is the growing availability of hybrids and the increasing number of electric vehicles.
This year, for the first time, U.S. EPA and DOE have added a second top ten list of most efficient vehicles– separating advanced technology vehicles from conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles.
The 2013 guide provides an estimated annual fuel cost for each vehicle. The estimate is calculated based on the vehicle’s miles per gallon (mpg) rating and national estimates for annual mileage and fuel prices. The online version of the guide allows consumers to enter their local gasoline prices and typical driving habits to receive a personalized fuel cost estimate. The 2013 guide also includes a greenhouse gas rating for each model.
Energy Department Launches Web Tool to Explore Pathways to Clean Energy Economy
The U.S. Department of Energy announced a new interactive online tool to help researchers, educators, and students explore future U.S. energy-use scenarios. The interactive Buildings, Industry, Transportation, and Electricity Scenarios (BITES) tool was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It allows users to adjust inputs, such as electricity generation and transportation fuel use, and compare the outcomes such as impacts on carbon dioxide emissions and the resulting U.S. energy portfolio. This tool can also be used as a way for students and educators to examine on how research, policy, or other forms of national action can impact U.S. energy use.
Take the Go Bananas! Challenge
The Cincinnati Zoo and the Gorilla Glue Company have joined forces in creating a national competition that challenges schools and scout groups across the country to collect and recycle cell phones to help save gorillas. Coltan, a mineral found in cell phones, is mined in gorilla habitat. By recycling old cell phones we can reduce the demand for newly-sourced Coltan and help protect these crucial habitats.
Collect the most cell phones and win up to $5,000 for your school/scout organization. Join the challenge online and start thinking about a creative campaign. The contest ends April 8, 2013, and the winning group will be announced on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2013.
In The Community
Illinois Audubon Society Helps Preserve Marshland
Illinois Audubon Society recently acquired Amboy Marsh in southeastern Lee County, a 272-acre wetland complex interspersed with black oak sand savannas, sedge meadows and dry sand prairie. According to Illinois Natural Area Inventory data, Amboy Marsh has unique natural features that attract and host one of Illinois' highest populations of nesting state-endangered Blanding's turtles.
Blanding's turtles are medium-sized, semi-aquatic freshwater turtles that inhabit wetlands in parts of the upper Midwest, New York, New England and southern Canada. With comparable sea turtle and tortoise life history characteristics, they can live 70 years. Blanding's turtles reach sexual maturity at more than 20 years of age and have low reproductive potential.
Funding for the Amboy Marsh project was provided by Grand Victoria and Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation; which not only will help to secure the purchase but will ensure near-term restoration and long-term site stewardship.
The mission of the Illinois Audubon Society is to promote the perpetuation and appreciation of native plants and animals and the habitats that support them. The Illinois Audubon Society is a member supported, not-for-profit, statewide organization. Founded in 1897, the Society is Illinois' oldest private conservation organization with over 2300 members, 20 chapters and 13 affiliate groups. Illinois Audubon Society has protected over 3000 acres by investing more than $6 million to protect land and water throughout Illinois.
Options for Water-Conscious Gardeners
As climate change increases the frequency of intense droughts and high-heat weather events, Illinois gardeners can turn to indigenous, resilient plants and smart gardening techniques that conserve water while maintaining a beautiful landscape. Here are some basic tips to help you get started:
Spend some time planning and prepping. If you keep a drought-resistant garden separate from plants that take in a lot of water, and set aside shady or moist areas for the plants that need it most, you’ll prevent a water competition among the plants. Mulching also helps retain moisture, and as always make sure your soil is weed-free and full of organic material before planting.
Go native. Hardy prairie plants with deeper root systems are not only made for our climate conditions, but they are also quite beautiful can bring wildlife like birds and butterflies to your garden. Your local Soil and Water Conservation District or favorite nursery will have the best information on which plants will thrive in your area. Go to the AISWCD web site to find your district.
Remember perennials. These plants might need water in the beginning to get established, but can be very low-maintenance and resilient afterwards. You can typically do well in Illinois with perennials like the Black-Eyed Susan, Russian Sage, Rudbeckia, and Purple Coneflower. The University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a great online database where you can search recommended plants in any state by general appearance, lifespan, light requirement, soil moisture and more.
Water less frequently, but more efficiently. By watering deep down at root level early in the daytime, you reduce the opportunity for evaporation -- not to mention fungus. Watering heavily at the beginning of plant establishment will make the roots reach deeper into the ground which can better moderate the plant even in extreme heat. You should also consider investing in drip hoses or timer systems for more efficient watering.
When in doubt, ask your nursery! Your local nursery will have a ton of information on what is best for your area and can help you get started. Support a local establishment and ensure a lower water bill and more vibrant garden.
Ensuring a Sustainable Vacation
SustainableTrip.org features hotels, tour operators, and other businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean that are verified by the Rainforest Alliance, certified by third-party programs or recommended by reputable organizations. The goal of this site is to help savvy travelers and tour operators choose destinations that are not only beautiful, but also benefit the communities, flora, and fauna they will be visiting.
**The mention of any products or services seen in the resource web sites in the articles above are not meant as an endorsement of any of these products or services by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Do you have a local story of an outstanding group or individual that has contributed to a healthy environment that you would like to share with us? If so, please email us using the form below. If you prefer, you can fax, mail or call us with the following information.
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