Photo by Frank Prager
Attendees at the Edwardsville watershed planning meeting peruse information about the project and provide input to HeartLands Conservancy members.
Most people live their entire lives watching streams and rivers pass by their communities, never stopping to think that all that water goes somewhere. It’s always best if that “somewhere” is eventually a major tributary like the Mississippi River and not your back yard, driveway or field.
The Cahokia Creek Watershed Planning project is a way to strategically address storm water, flooding and water quality issues. The project will create watershed plans for the two Cahokia Creek watersheds in western Madison County.
A watershed is a large area of land in which the ground water drains to a single point. The Cahokia Creek watershed includes the Indian Creek and Canteen Creek areas and encompasses an area of Southern Illinois that includes the Glen Carbon and Edwardsville communities. The watershed collects and channels water to the Mississippi River via multiple tributaries.
HeartLands Conservancy is a nonprofit organization composed of community leaders from throughout Southwestern Illinois united in an effort to protect the region’s natural resources. As part of the planning project to address issues, the group is gathering community input.
Open houses in Edwardsville on Jan. 17 and in Glen Carbon on Jan. 19 solicited information from citizens on where resources can best be focused. Information about the project and resources was made available to attendees and input was taken on projects and focus areas to be considered.
Janet Buchanan is in charge of environmental planning and policy for HeartLands Conservancy. Her background is in biology and environmental policy. She is involved in water quality issues for the state and region and works on the watershed project.
“Our goal is to gather information so the groundwork is laid for addressing watershed issues,” she says.
She explains the results will be used to find funding through various entities and foundations to address issues.
Issues related to the watershed can include areas prone to flooding, insufficient storm water infrastructure and poor water quality because of littering, dumping, petroleum leaks or algae. Other situations can consist of poor conditions for boating and swimming, subsidence as a result of previous mining activity and inadequate water quality for fish and wildlife.
“Watershed plans can be used to leverage funding for many different types of projects,” Buchanan says. “With input from attendees at open houses, we can direct attention to infrastructure projects and land management issues that matter to people.
“Issues can affect both agricultural and residential areas,” she says.
The open house events are open to the public for residents, businesses and property owners in the Cahokia Creek watershed project area.
The effort is part of Madison County’s overall storm water management planning. It is being undertaken by a partnership between Madison County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with HeartLands Conservancy as the lead consultant.
Updates on the project and information about other HeartLands Conservancy projects are available on the organization’s website and Facebook page.
Anyone wanting to provide feedback or information about water-related issues can contact Janet Buchanan at (618) 566-4451, ext. 25, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.