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April 25, 2000

Governor Ryan, Lt., Governor Wood Unite With Illinois Delegation To Support "Illinois Rivers 2020"


PEORIA-–Governor George H. Ryan today hailed the cooperative work of state and federal officials in support of "Illinois Rivers 2020," a long-range, comprehensive effort to restore and protect the Illinois River and its tributaries.

Ryan was joined by Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood, Congressman Ray LaHood, and directors of state and local agencies who will help implement the plan.

"Illinois Rivers 2020 protects our state and national interests by improving one of our most important natural resources: the Illinois River basin," Ryan said. "The basin provides community water supplies, wildlife habitat, recreational and tourism opportunities. It is also one of the most cost-effective means of transporting goods for export.

"I am very pleased that this initiative is receiving such broad support from our congressional delegation and local officials across our state. Illinois Rivers 2020 is a wonderful example of how Illinois is working with the federal government to help address threats to our vital waterways."

Illinois Rivers 2020 is a $2.5 billion, 20-year federal-state initiative to address the problems of water quality, soil erosion, and sediment buildup in the Illinois River Basin. Lt. Governor Wood, named by Governor Ryan to chair the Illinois River Coordinating Council, said that Illinois is seeking a $950 million appropriation for the Illinois River Basin through existing Farm Bill programs and the Clean Water Act. Illinois also seeks an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act to restore waterways and improve water quality.

The program is a cooperative effort among the Illinois River Coordinating Council, which Wood chairs, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Lieutenant Governor particularly thanked Congressman Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, who has been spearheading efforts in Washington for IR2020 and who testified before the House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment in support of the program. "Congressman LaHood understands the wide-ranging implications of Illinois Rivers 2020, and I want to thank him for his strong leadership in supporting this initiative."

Congressman LaHood commended Governor Ryan and Lieutenant Governor Wood for their leadership and vision in formulating this program. "The wide range of support for this program is evidenced by the backing of the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation, many state legislators, and numerous local officials and organizations," said Congressman LaHood. "When this program is implemented, the entire country will look at the Illinois River as the model for dealing with water issues on a watershed-level basis; and that model will be based on existing programs and voluntary participation."

Governor Ryan and Lt. Governor Wood explained that the principal problem on the Peoria Lakes is sediment build-up. Backwaters, which used to be six to eight feet deep, now average 18 inches. Currently, Peoria Lakes contain about 100 million cubic yards of sediment. Since a standard dump truck holds 18 to 20 yards of material, the Governor noted that more than 5 million semi-trailers would be needed to remove all the sediment from Peoria Lakes.

Governor Ryan emphasized that Illinois Rivers 2020, which builds upon the success of the Illinois River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, is a voluntary, incentive-based approach. This plan does not create any new bureaucracies or mandates, but instead utilizes existing agencies and programs in the Farm Bill, the Clean Water Act, and WRDA.

Specifically, the initiative will develop new technologies and innovative approaches to:

  • Improve water quality within the entire river basin
  • Protect farmland and open space
  • Provide for land treatment of storm water and best management practices for upland areas
  • Enhance the Illinois River as a transportation corridor
  • Restore, enhance and preserve habitat for plants and wildlife
  • Increase economic opportunity for the agriculture and business communities


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