Preventing Water Pollution
Challenge: Toxic ash is produced when coal is burned. Current regulations allow this toxic material to pollute streams and groundwater.
- Exposed Illinois EPA’s failure to protect clean water from the hazards of coal ash disposal.
- Helped national environmental powerhouses focus U.S. EPA on the extent of the coal ash problem in Illinois.
- Rallied citizens to support tougher regulations on coal ash pollution through petitions, letters, and testimony at EPA hearings.
- Developed water quality monitoring program for coal field communities to find and fix coal pollution.
Strengthening River Activism
Prairie Rivers Network gives people opportunities to experience nature and to then take steps on behalf of healthy rivers and clean water. Our goal is to turn citizens into active river advocates.
- Online petitions ensure that citizen voices are heard.
- Monthly electronic newsletters keep 1,000+ people informed about the latest issues.
- Frequent Facebook posts give 500+ friends the inside scoop as it happens.
- Government agencies know that our members are active and involved and therefore listen to what we have to say.
- Media coverage of our work ensures that rivers remain relevant and visible.
Protecting River Health and River Habitat
Challenge: Our rivers are under assault. Dredging natural channels and clearcutting riverbank vegetation has profoundly damaged our rivers and the wildlife that depends on them. Choking the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers with dams to support barge traffic has destroyed America’s greatest freshwater fishery.
- We have a long-term vision of a truly sustainable and healthy Mississippi River, one where navigation interests do not dominate.
- This year we began helping citizen activists and municipalities along the Mississippi River develop a conservation action plans to restore wildlife habitat.
- We led development of conservation action plans for protecting threatened fish and wildlife habitat throughout the Vermilion River basin.
Engaging Citizens in Protecting Clean Water
By providing information, sound science, and hands-on assistance, Prairie Rivers Network helps individuals and community groups become effective river conservation leaders.
Homeowners Reduce Flooding and Stormwater Pollution
- Led efforts by more than 50 residents in three neighborhoods to demonstrate ability of rain gardens and rain barrels to capture and treat polluted runoff.
Workshops Train Conservationists
- Trained more than 250 people from municipalities, government agencies, and water protection groups, plus interested citizens to join and lead local efforts to reduce water pollution and restore rivers and lakes.
Traveling Science Center and River Discovery Days
- 1700 school children, many of their parents and other adults learned the importance of protecting and preserving rivers.
Stopping Invasive Species
Challenge: Invasive Asian carp threaten our waterways and native wildlife populations.
Dramatic images of Asian carp leaping out of the water and injuring boaters, the intentional poisoning of thousands of fish in Chicago waterways to stop their spread to the Great Lakes – these events have captured the attention of the public, the press, and officials.
This crisis presents us with a unique opportunity to re-engineer the Chicago canals that allow destructive invasive species like the zebra mussel to move between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.
We are working with state and national partners to demand that the half-measures that constitute current policy be replaced by a permanent solution to the problem: restoring the divide between the basins.
We Have Made Great Progress in the Past 12-18 Months
- The idea of separating the basins, until recently viewed as a political non-starter, has gained traction: Chicago’s Mayor Daley recently made headlines talking about it.
- The Obama Administration signaled its commitment by creating a new position on the White House staff to coordinate the federal response to the threat.
- More then 150 scientists have signed on to our position statement supporting the need to restore the basin divide.
Enforcing Clean Water Laws
Our scientific and legal expertise and persistent watchdogging has resulted in stronger water pollution controls.
- We found pollution near factory farms and brought in state inspectors to make sure problems were fixed.
- We are working with organizations across the state to win stricter rules on factory farm pollution.
- If polluters don’t follow the law, we take action.
- We joined in a case with the Attorney General against a dirty coal mine, challenging weak permits.
- Our efforts have resulted in state action on several other chronically polluting facilities.
Sewage Treatment Plants
- We strengthened pollution controls in many communities by challenging EPA permits.
- Our Antidegradation Guidebook helps treatment plants understand the law and describes innovative methods for controlling pollution.