2002 Accomplishments

Protecting Our Best Streams

We took the lead in securing adoption in February of an “antidegradation policy” for Illinois rivers. By requiring that clean waters must stay that way and that the beneficial uses of those waters must be protected, the policy addresses one of the most critical and neglected aspects of Illinois’ clean water regulations. As a result, Illinois now has one of the nation’s most progressive anti-degradation policies—preserving biodiversity, protecting recreational uses, maintaining watershed integrity, and safeguarding the state’s most exceptional streams.

Holding Polluters Accountable

We continued to press for full implementation of the Clean Water Act as it applies to industries, municipalities, and other recognized sources of water pollution. We participated in state programs to repair waterways that currently violate water quality standards, commented on numerous discharge permits (in writing and at hearings we requested), called for improvements in water quality standards, and continued to press the state to improve its record of ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, the Clean Water Act.

Training Others to Help Enforce the Clean Water Act

In June, with support from the Clean Water Network and River Network, we published an expanded edition of Permitting an End to Pollution. This first-of-its-kind handbook teaches citizens how to review and comment on water pollution permits, thereby giving them a voice in the process that affects the waterways they care about. This book is now being distributed nationally.

Reducing Pollution from Farm Runoff

Through one-on-one meetings and public forums, we encouraged farmers and landowners to become more actively involved in efforts to minimize pollutants that flow from our farms into our rivers.

Creating New River Conservation Organizations, and Building the Capacity of Existing Organizations

We helped local clean water advocates form the Friends of Kickapoo Creek and other organizations. Prairie Rivers Network also assisted many organizations with technical and organizational assistance to build their capacity and effectiveness.

Working In Our Own Backyards

We co-hosted the Fifth Annual Salt Fork River Clean-up, an event that enhances and raises public awareness of Prairie Rivers’ “hometown” stream. Also, as a member of the Salt Fork River Steering River Committee, we emphasized the need to restore and improve habitat and water quality and to halt destructive channelization and dredging projects. A small but visible aspect of our work included our response to an accidental fish-kill stemming from a discharge of ammonia in the River by the University of Illinois.