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November 10, 2006

Governor Blagojevich nominates seven watershed projects in Illinois for U.S. EPA grant funds
Grant program is designed to protect and restore waterways through community-based approaches

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that he has nominated seven projects in Illinois for U.S. EPA Targeted Watersheds Grant Program.  The projects nominated by the Governor will help improve waterways quality across the state, from the South Branch of the Chicago River, to the Kinkaid-Reeds Creek in Jackson County, to the Mackinaw River Watershed.  The U.S. EPA is expected to announce the final grant recipients in the Spring of 2007.
“One of the best things we can do for future generations is to help make sure the water flowing through our rivers and lakes is clean and safe.  We’ve worked hard in Illinois to improve the quality of our waterways – from reducing mercury emissions to funding restoration projects in our lakes and streams.  But we can’t do it alone – we need partners at the local level who are also committed to protecting their water sources and making them last for years to come.  The seven projects we’re nominating for federal funding are all doing just that,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The Targeted Watersheds Grant Program is designed to further protect and restore the country’s waterways through community-based approaches and activities specifically to help local water resources.  For 2006, U.S. EPA will award up to $16 million to as many as 20 of the nation’s outstanding watershed practitioners, to help fund various projects like wetland restoration, and infrastructure development and expansion projects.
“Illinois’ water quality is a direct reflection of the health of its watersheds,” said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott.  “Pollutants from the watersheds find their way to our rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands that are used for drinking water as well as recreational purposes.”
The Illinois nominees are:
  • The Chicago Environmental Fund’s “Active Capping Project at the Confluence of the South Fork and the South Branch of the Chicago River.”  This project proposes to demonstrate the potential of active caps and constructed wetlands to improve water quality.  The total project cost is $1,200,000.  The applicant is requesting $900,000 of federal funding.
  • The Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development Area’s “Cache River – Big Creek Watershed Project.”  The project, within an internationally recognized wetland of importance will build on a 20-year long-term monitoring program that measures the effectiveness of restoration practices.  The total project cost is $1,123,160.   The applicant is requesting $899,868 of federal funding.
  • The city of Aurora’s “Implementation Projects Grant for the city of Aurora (Fox River).”  The total project cost is $1,200,000.  The applicant is requesting $900,000 of federal funding. The City has been cited as one of three communities to be able to receive designation under the River Edge Redevelopment Zone Act signed into law this past July by Gov. Blagojevich.  The Governor’s River Edge Redevelopment Zone initiative is designed to bring a concentrated effort by state agencies together to recapture and reuse environmentally challenged properties in the designated zones.  This project, if funded, would partner in those efforts.
  • The Wetland Initiative’s “Goose Pond Nutrient Farm: Wetland Restoration for Water Quality Improvement” project (Illinois River).  If funded this project will implement a 1,230 acre nutrient farming demonstration project (restored wetland complexes) to improve water quality in the Lower Illinois River.  The total project cost is $1,200,000.  The applicant is requesting $900,000 of federal funding.
  • The Kinkaid-Reeds Creek Conservancy District’s “Project Implementation for Reduction in Sediment and Nutrient Loading to Kinkaid Lake, Jackson County, Illinois.”  Sediment delivery to this lake has been estimated at 77,600 tons per year, if funded this project would continue efforts to significantly reduce that amount by reducing gully, sheet and rill, shoreline and stream bank erosion.  The total project cost is $800,000.  The applicant is requesting $600,000 of federal funding.
  • The Prairie Hills Resource Conservation and Development Area’s “Upper La Moine River Watershed Improvement Initiative.”  This project will concentrate best management practices on 15 sites in the upper portion of the La Moine River watershed to reduce downstream sedimentation into the mainstem of the La Moine and the Illinois rivers.  The total project cost is $500,000.  The applicant is requesting $400,000 of federal funding.
  • The Nature Conservancy’s “Demonstrating Water Quality Benefits from Adding Wetlands and Buffers in Impaired Agricultural Watersheds, Mackinaw River Watershed.”  This project proposes to coordinate hydrologic modeling, outreach training, implementation, monitoring, and an economic analysis in order to strategically place wetlands and stream buffers within the watershed to improve water quality.  The total project cost is $1,408,279.  The applicant is requesting $956,700 of federal funding.
The Illinois EPA has formally notified each nominee of the Governor’s recommendation.  The U.S. EPA expects to select the grant recipients in the Spring of 2007.
The Targeted Watersheds Grant Program was first proposed by the president in 2002 to protect America’s waterways.  The Agriculture Watershed Institute based in Decatur, received a grant for almost $1.3 million through this program in 2004.  Funds are being used in the Sangamon River Watershed for three interrelated projects to improve water quality locally, regionally, and in the Gulf of Mexico by reducing unnecessary nutrient discharges from agricultural areas.
Nationwide, funds are going toward restoration and protection projects such as stream stabilization and habitat enhancement, implementing agricultural and stormwater best management practices, and working with local municipalities and homeowners to promote sustainable practices and strategies.  U.S. EPA has funded projects that were most likely to achieve environmental results quickly.  To access the Federal Register notice and other information about the Targeted Watersheds Grant Program go to: http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/initiative .


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