Coles County gets $106,000 grant for Embarras River project

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Coles County Soil and Water Conservation District will receive over $106,000 in grant funding to update portions of the 2011 Embarras River Watershed Management Plan. The grants, provided by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, will support development of watershed-based plans within the  Embarras River Watershed, as well as education and outreach activities, such as watershed meetings and field days.

“This project will update and better define the current watershed land use and opportunities for landowners and producers to adopt to further protection of the Embarras River Watershed,” said IEPA Director John Kim. “This watershed is home not only to wonderful water resources, but also to a large group of citizens, businesses, and organizations that have embraced the water quality protection through the development and implementation of the watershed management planning process.”

The Coles County SWCD, developed the project proposal with support and assistance from the University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Farm Bureau and 10 county Farm Bureaus, the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, several SWCDs within the watershed, multiple County Boards and municipalities, along with private landowners and businesses.

“The Embarras River Watershed is listed as a phosphorus priority watershed in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy," says Jennifer Jones, Illinois Extension watershed outreach associate. "It is exciting to see many organizations and people working together toward a common goal of updating the watershed management plan, an important step in addressing the phosphorus issue and other water quality challenges we face in the Embarras River Watershed.”

The total project budget is $177,688, with Illinois EPA providing 60%, or $106,613 in grant funds, and the SWCD and project partners providing 40%, or $71,075 in match.

“The Coles County SWCD is dedicated to providing education, leadership, and assistance in order to protect and to promote the wise use of our natural resources, which includes clean water and healthy soils," says Lauren Spaniol, resource conservationist, Coles County SWCD. "Updating the Management Plan is going to allow us and our partners to continue to provide targeted services in the most vulnerable areas of the Embarras River Watershed.”

The 2011 Embarras River Watershed Management Plan was an update to the 1996 Embarras River Basin Resource Management Plan. The 2011 watershed characterization will be updated along with a quantification of point and nonpoint source pollution. The project also includes coordination with local agencies and groups to help them encourage best management practice adoption by watershed landowners and producers. This grant continues the voluntary implementation of the Embarras River Watershed Management Plan, which addresses stormwater and nonpoint source pollution issues in the watershed that drains into Embarras River, a tributary of the Wabash River, located in southeast Illinois.

Check the Illinois Water Quality website for information on Illinois’ Nonpoint Source Management Program and the 319 Grant Program.

SOURCE: This content was adapted from a release by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Kim Biggs, and used with permission.

Websites linked: Illinois Nonpoint Source Management Program: