2009 Accomplishments

Raising Awareness of River Health Issues and Fostering River Stewardship

In 2009, Prairie Rivers Network:

  • Trained over 100 people from 60 organizations to be effective advocates for clean water and healthy rivers.
  • Successfully collaborated with partner organizations to convince Governor Quinn and Illinois Legislators to pass the Green Infrastructure bill (S.B. 1489) and to increase funding for upgrading wastewater treatment and drinking water facilities to $160 million in 2010.
  • Partnered with Illinois Public Media, U of I College of Media, the Department of Natural Resources, and others, to engage youth in the outdoors and to document their experiences in the media.
  • Educated 250 people in NE Illinois, Bloomington and Champaign-Urbana areas on proper disposal of unused medications to keep these products out of rivers and streams where they harm fish and enter drinking water supplies.
  • Trained partners in the Mississippi River Collaborative on how to monitor pollution from factory farms— attendees came from as far away as Oregon and New York State.
  • Worked with partners to hold the 4th Annual Boneyard Creek Community Day in Champaign and Urbana; 150 people participated in cleaning up this urbanized local stream.

Protecting Clean Water

In 2009, Prairie Rivers Network:

  • Strengthened water pollution permits for 12 facilities requiring them to reduce pollution entering our rivers and streams.
  • Negotiated design improvements for a large sewage treatment plant that will significantly reduce pollution released by the facility.
  • Appealed water pollution permits for two coal mines that would pollute drinking water and harm river life.
  • Pushed IEPA to provide better oversight of the dozens of coals waste disposal ponds across Illinois similar to one that collapsed in Tennessee in December 2008; worked with State Senator Michael Frerichs.
  • Fought a variance for Springfield’s City Water Light & Power that will allow them to dump more than 10x the legal limit of boron into the Sangamon and Illinois Rivers.
  • Fought proposal for a new dam and reservoir in Springfield, IL. There are less environmentally-damaging and less expensive ways to meet the city’s water needs.
  • Collaborated with Carle Clinic Association in Urbana and Fox Fresh in Aurora to develop permanent drop boxes for unwanted medications. This alternative to flushing reduces pollution caused by medications, which typically are not removed by sewage treatment plants.
  • Launched initiative aimed at reducing pollution from factory farms by pressing for better oversight and more transparency from state agencies, empowering local citizens to act in their communities, and by monitoring streams near several Clinton County facilities for pollution problems.

Protecting Healthy Stream Flow and River Habitat

In 2009, Prairie Rivers Network:

  • Partnered with Department of Natural Resources and local stakeholders to plan for habitat restoration in the Vermilion River Conservation Opportunity Area as part of the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.
  • Convinced Corps of Engineers to consider water quality and habitat benefits when prioritizing restoration projects along the Mississippi.
  • Watchdogged enormous hydrokinetic power project proposed for the Mississippi River involving 180,000 turbines in the river between St. Louis and Louisiana to ensure that this untested technology does not harm precious resources.
  • With a broad coalition of partner organizations and local municipalities, defeated an irresponsible bill promoting tax subsidies for floodplain development; we expect to see the bill again in 2010 and will fight to keep development out of the floodplain.
  • Contributed to discussion of regional water supply planning for the Mahomet aquifer in Central Illinois in several public forums.
  • Helped improve and strengthen agriculture conservation practices promoted by the Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service.