Environment & Weather
Simon, River Council to Army Corps: Reconsider Mississippi River decision if drought continues PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 10 December 2012 09:08

Stakeholders to monitor Mississippi river levels; aim to prevent halt in barge traffic

CARLYLE – December 7, 2012. One day after sending a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging it to protect Mississippi River commerce, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon convened a quarterly meeting of the Mississippi River Coordinating Council (MRCC) today to address low water levels that are jeopardizing barge traffic along the river.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has previously rejected requests from state and local officials to allow increased flow from the Missouri River into the Mississippi River to offset low river levels in the Mississippi. Simon is asking officials to continuously monitor river levels and reconsider this decision if necessary.

“Extreme drought earlier this year has caused dramatically low water levels across the country, which is particularly noticeable in the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Cairo,” said Simon. “I asked the Army Corps to closely monitor this situation and intervene if necessary to preserve this essential economic resource and keep barge traffic moving along the Mississippi.”

Officials representing the USACE attended the meeting today and highlighted the impact the 2012 drought has had on water levels of both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The USACE is bound by law to annually reduce the amount of water flowing from the Missouri River in order to preserve the upper Missouri River basin. Revised forecasts show the Mississippi river water level isn’t falling as fast as first projected, and the Army Corps is ready to remove rock pinnacles that could stand in the way of some barge traffic.

Lt. Governor Simon will maintain close contact with the USACE and state and federal leaders as they monitor the situation and take further action. Already water levels are approaching 1989’s record drought levels, and barges are currently required to carry lighter loads. Proceeding to cut off water flow from the Missouri River could completely halt barge traffic as early as this month. The Corps continues to monitor water levels and will start blasting rock structures that could obstruct barges along the Mississippi River early next month.

“The Corps of Engineers has to consider the different needs of people, economy and the environment when making decisions about our water resources,” said Colonel Chris Hall, commander of the St. Louis District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “That is a challenge in years with typical water levels; it is critical in a drought. We've been able to maintain an authorized channel that keeps commerce moving on the middle Mississippi River despite historic low levels. This is only the first year of what could be a persistent drought, so we need to look at the impacts of our decisions with that in mind.”

Mississippi River commerce is estimated to be a $180 billion a year industry. If water levels drop below nine feet, barge traffic from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill. could be shut down. Corporation heads from Caterpillar, ADM, Navistar and others have joined Lt. Governor Simon in writing to Assistant Secretary Darcy. Governor Pat Quinn’s administration also continues to work with federal officials to keep the river open.

Lt. Governor Simon chairs the Mississippi River Coordinating Council, composed of a diverse group of citizens, not-for-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies. The Council coordinates initiatives, projects and funding to promote the ecological health of the Mississippi River and its tributaries by addressing the issues in the watershed.

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EPA Region 7 to Provide Details about Green Infrastructure Assistance for City of Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, Dec. 10 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kris Lancaster   
Thursday, 06 December 2012 15:49

(Lenexa, Kan., Dec. 6, 2012) – EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks and Des Moines Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie will hold a news conference Monday, Dec. 10, to provide details about green infrastructure assistance for Des Moines, Iowa. EPA will provide design assistance from private-sector experts to help Des Moines demonstrate sustainable city planning designs that create vibrant neighborhoods with multiple social, economic, environmental, and public health benefits.

The focus of the project is a proposed streetscape plan for a one-mile segment of Sixth Avenue. The Sixth Avenue Corridor serves as the northern gateway to the city’s downtown, and is an official Main Street Iowa Urban Neighborhood District and has direct access to the Des Moines River. The city plans to use the Sixth Avenue project to guide designs for other planned streetscape improvements throughout the community.

A team of designers and landscape architects that specialize in green infrastructure approaches will produce schematic designs and illustrations during a three-day design workshop that will take place in Des Moines early next year. Additionally, this project could be the testing ground for other city actions, such as changes to local codes and ordinances to better support sustainable growth and green building.

WHAT: News conference on green infrastructure assistance for Des Moines

WHEN: 10:45 a.m., Dec. 10, 2012

WHERE: City Council Chambers, City Hall, 400 Robert Ray Drive, Des Moines, Iowa 50309

WHO: EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks and Des Moines Mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie

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SNAKE SYMPOSIUM LECTURE PLANNED PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Mike Granger   
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 09:19
On December 15th, 2012 there will be a “Ssssnake Ssssymposium” at the Wapsi River Center at 11:00 A.M. ~ ~ ~ Now that they have gone into hibernation for the winter, what better time to learn about our scaly friends! Join Caitlin Roeder at the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center for a program on these resourceful reptiles and meet some of the snakes we have around Iowa.

The Wapsi River Environmental Education Center can be found 6 miles south of Wheatland or 1 mile northwest of Dixon, Iowa by taking County Road Y4E. Then turn north at 52nd Avenue and follow the signs for about 1 mile.

 
Governor Quinn Announces First Project of Illinois Clean Water Initiative PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Erin Wilson   
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 14:24

City of Pekin to Receive $4.8 Million Low-Interest Loan to Improve Waste Water Treatment System; Support Almost 400 Jobs

PEKIN – December 4, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Director John Kim, and Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) Executive Director Chris Meister today announced that the first loan of the governor’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative would be awarded to the city of Pekin to improve a wastewater treatment plant. As part of the governor’s $1 billion water infrastructure initiative, the city completed the necessary application and meets the eligibility criteria to qualify for a long-term, low-interest $4.8 million loan, which is being jointly administered by IEPA and the IFA. This project will create or support nearly 400 jobs by improving local water infrastructure.

“Just as Illinois was defined by its waterways, so too was Pekin,” Governor Quinn said. “Built by skilled laborers, this new wastewater treatment facility will protect the health of Pekin’s residents and its waterways. The project is a prime example of how the Illinois Clean Water Initiative is an investment in our environment, health and the creation of good-paying jobs.”

In October, Governor Quinn launched the Illinois Clean Water Initiative to help local governments overhaul aging drinking water and wastewater treatment plants and pipes, and ensure that residents will have access to safe drinking water and that our environment will remain protected. More than 350 local governments have already expressed need for the program. Many Illinois residents are receiving drinking water through water mains that are nearly a century old; and scores of other drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities are in dire need of repair.

The city of Pekin is using the proceeds of this loan to complete phased improvements to its wastewater system that were initiated in 2011. The project cost is nearly $40 million, which utilized previous IEPA loans of $35 million. This major upgrade to Pekin’s wastewater system will provide a significant increase in treatment capacity that will improve the ability of the plant to meet current and future discharge standards. A project summary is attached.

“The Clean Water Initiative will benefit Pekin and other communities greatly with improved infrastructure and reduced risk of environmental harm caused by leaking piping,” said IEPA Director John Kim.

Governor Quinn proposed the Illinois Clean Water Initiative during his State of the State address, and later this year directed the IEPA and the IFA to move forward to access $1 billion in long-term, low-interest loans to local governments for drinking water and wastewater systems across the state. IEPA has lent $4.3 billion to 472 Illinois communities since 1989. There has never been a defaulted loan during the program’s history.

The program provides a substantial increase in the clean water and drinking water low-interest revolving loan programs administered by Illinois EPA. The program provides financing to communities for projects such as wastewater treatment plant upgrades and expansions, new sewer lines, drinking water treatment plant modifications and expansions and new or replacement water distribution systems.

The Pekin Clean Water Initiative will create 190 construction jobs plus approximately 180 associated jobs by equipment suppliers, manufacturers and fabricators, raw material suppliers and fabricators, and utility providers. Pipefitters, plumbers, operating engineers, carpenters, electricians, ironworkers and others will replace broken water mains, build treatment plants, upgrade sewers and prevent environmental threats.

The SRF is funded with annual federal grants, a one-time infusion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds, plus principal and interest from loan repayments. No new state tax dollars will be used. Needed equity will be provided by the existing loan portfolio and future federal capitalization grant dollars.

To learn more about the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov

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Governor Quinn Announces Winners of the 2012 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 12 November 2012 14:22

Awards Recognize Illinois Businesses and Colleges That Promote Green Innovation

OAK BROOK – November 10, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn Friday announced the winners of the 2012 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards, which recognize college campuses and businesses throughout Illinois that demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the environment through sustainable practices. Since 1987, the awards have been administered on behalf of the Governor by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois, a leader in environmental and energy research. This is the first year campuses have been considered for an award.

“Investing in sustainability creates jobs, boosts our economy and is an investment in our future,” Governor Quinn said. “These awards foster innovation and encourage our universities and businesses to help us build a stronger, greener Illinois.”

The Governor’s Sustainability Awards are issued for excellence in environmental sustainability practices and continued improvement. Organizations have also been recognized for their efforts to implement green practices such as energy conservation and innovative sustainable technology use. The actions taken by these groups signify a step forward in environmentally friendly practices for Illinois.

For more information on the winners, please contact Deb Jacobson at 630-472-5019 and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and visit www.istc.illinois.edu.

Governor’s 26th Annual Sustainability Awards Winners:

College Campuses:

Danville Area Community College
DePaul University
Elmhurst College
Illinois Institute of Technology
Joliet Junior College
Heartland Community College
Kankakee Community College
Lewis & Clark Community College
Lewis University
Lincoln Land Community College
Moraine Valley Community College
Northwestern University
Northwestern College
Roosevelt University
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Southwestern Illinois College
Triton College
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Waubonsee Community College
Wilbur Wright College

 

Businesses:

Advocate Health Care
Caterpillar Inc., Global R&D Headquarters
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd.
City of Moline
Clarke
County of Will
Farmland Foods, Inc.
Flex-N-Gate Urbana
Fluorecycle, Inc.
Knauz Automotive Group
The Label Printers L.P.
Lawrence Foods, Inc.
Naperville Park District
Naval Station Great Lakes
The Peterson Garden Project
Quaker Foods & Snacks, Bridgeview Facility
Testa Produce, Inc.
Vaughan & Bushnell Mfg. Co.
Village of Schaumburg
Wight & Company

 

 
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