Got Water? Is It Clean?

by Katrina Philips, photo by Kris Bergren

Did you know that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency only has the resources to assess 14% of the over 100,000 miles of streams in Illinois? Wouldn’t you like to know how healthy your community’s streams are? It’s often hard to tell how clean rivers and streams really are just by looking at them. Even if they appear clean, they can have unhealthy levels of constituents such as dissolved oxygen, nitrate and phosphate concentrations and turbidity. This is why Sierra Club volunteers, as a group called the Water Sentinels, have taken the time to go out in the field and take measurements to collect this important data. The data has been analyzed, compared to data from previous years, and evaluated based on current water quality standards.

Of particular concern to the Illinois Sierra Club and its volunteers is the nutrient pollution that threatens most Illinois waters, including the Rock River. This nutrient pollution is caused by agricultural runoff, urban runoff and point source contributions such as wastewater treatment plants. While all ecosystems need nutrients to thrive, excess nutrients feed algae blooms that suck up the oxygen and threaten important plants and animals that live in the water. These excess nutrients make their way downstream and eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico. Many people in our communities enjoy the Rock River for fishing, canoeing, water-skiing, swimming and other activities. We hope to keep it as clean and healthy as possible, which is why we have been collecting information to determine what kind of help it needs.

Now it’s time to take a look at the data and determine how healthy the Rock River and its tributaries really are. Have they improved or worsened since the last data assessment? Which water quality parameters are of a concern, and should be better regulated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency? Join us for a presentation on May 18th by the Illinois Sierra Club’s Clean Water Organizer, Katrina Phillips, to answer these questions and to explain about our Eagle View Group Water Sentinels program. We hope to see you there!

The program is free and open to the public. It starts at 7:00 PM on Monday, May 18, 2015 at the Moline Library in the Bronze Room.

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