2005 Accomplishments

Prairie Rivers Network’s efforts are focused in three program areas: Clean Water, Habitat Protection, and River Stewardship and Awareness. Here are some of the highlights of our work:

Clean Water

Safer Rivers for Fishing and Swimming – We challenged Illinois EPA’s practice of exempting wastewater discharges from disinfection, ensuring that rivers where children play and people fish are free of dangerous pathogens.

Preventing Growth of Algae – After more than two years of effort, Illinois will become one of the first states in the Midwest to limit phosphorus pollution in its rivers, preventing the growth of algae that chokes aquatic life and poses health threats.

More Oxygen for Fish and Aquatic Life – We fought a proposal by polluters to decrease the amount of oxygen available in Illinois waters.

Habitat Protection

Cleaner Air and Water and Protection for the Middle Fork – We participated in a legal case which resulted in a landmark settlement with Dynegy Midwest Generation with the following provisions: $500 million in new pollution controls will be installed on five Illinois power plants; precedent-setting mercury emissions controls will be installed on their Oakwood plant; and 1100 acres along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River will be donated to the state, creating a protected corridor that stretches from Kickapoo State Park to the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area.

Balancing Drainage with Healthy Habitat – We produced “A Citizen’s Guide to Illinois’ Agricultural Drainage Practices and Law,” promoting environmentally sensitive practices for agricultural drainage maintenance.

Protecting Rivers from Dredges and Dams – We discouraged projects that would fill and channelize rivers, winning an important victory with the Friends of Kickapoo Creek to prevent a dam that would have had serious impacts on the health of the creek.

River Stewardship and Awareness

Illinois Stream Team – We continued our trainings on stream monitoring and now have a total of fourteen groups monitoring water quality in their local streams. The goal of this program is to have a Stream Team in every watershed.

Cleaner Rivers, New Advocates – Working with volunteers from the Vermilion and Sangamon rivers, we helped organize two new annual clean-ups that drew hundreds of participants.

Reaching New Volunteers – We began distributing our new monthly e-newsletter which is sent to river advocates around the state with tips for protecting water quality and a calendar of upcoming river related activities and volunteer opportunities.

Storm Drain Patrol – We helped citizens from seven communities stencil hundreds of neighborhood storm drains with the important message, “Dump No Waste – Drains to Rivers.” Through this project we are increasing awareness of the fact that runoff of storm water from our homes and streets, collected by stormdrains, is not treated but instead flows directly into our rivers and streams.