Illinois receives Upper Sangamon watershed
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Will benefit Illinois agriculture and water
quality to the Gulf of Mexico
[JULY 21, 2004]
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod
Blagojevich praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on
Tuesday for selecting the Upper Sangamon River watershed in central
Illinois as one of only 14 nationally to receive federal funds under
the "targeted watershed" program this year.
Each state was allowed to nominate two
intrastate projects for the competitive grants. In January, Gov.
Blagojevich nominated the Upper Sangamon and the Kaskaskia River
watersheds for consideration.
The U.S. EPA has notified the governor
that the nomination seeking $1,289,904 for the Upper Sangamon study
has been approved. The study will be conducted by the Agricultural
Watershed Institute in Decatur, which conducts research and
education programs on policies that improve water quality in
"The federal grant will support
improvements of water quality in the region and also reduce
unnecessary runoff from Illinois farm fields that harm aquatic life
in the Gulf of Mexico," Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Upper Sangamon River watershed
includes more than 900 square miles in seven counties above Lake
Decatur. The Upper Sangamon River Watershed Committee, co-chaired by
a farmer and a Decatur City Council member, will serve as an
advisory committee to the institute research team. This team will
focus on three interrelated projects to improve water quality
locally, regionally and in the Gulf of Mexico by reducing
unnecessary nutrient discharges (such as from fertilizer) from
"This grant will fund a variety of
approaches that will demonstrate to Illinois farmers how to better
produce their crops in an environmentally friendly manner," said
Illinois EPA Director Renee Cipriano.
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One of the projects will use GIS-based
software and precision agricultural technology in on-farm trials to
optimize nitrogen management.
A second study will demonstrate
drainage water management and subsurface bioreactors --underground
trenches filled with wood chips acting to remove nitrogen from the
tile discharge water before it is discharged into a stream.
The third study will address economic
and environmental benefits from soil testing and variable-rate
technology to improve phosphorus management. Variable-rate
technology provides application of precise amounts of fertilizer
based on soil testing.
Crop production accounts for
approximately 87 percent of the land use in the Upper Sangamon
watershed and extensive use of tile drainage has benefited
agriculture but also is a source for erosion and nutrient losses.
In addition, the study will include an
evaluation of market-based nitrogen trading approaches, in which
agricultural "non-point" sources that significantly reduce nitrogen
discharges would be able to sell "credits" to "point" sources, such
as wastewater treatment facilities.
environmental and economic results of the studies will be measured
and shared and evaluated by stakeholders.
[News release from the