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About the organizer
Dr. Cindy Skrukrud
Dr. Cindy Skrukrud
Illinois Chapter
200 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 505
Chicago, IL 60601-5908
(312) 251-1680
fax (312) 251-1780

Sierra Club EPEC Program

Illinois Sentinels Track 'Bad Nutrients' in Waterways

Press event at Lake MichiganThe Illinois Water Sentinels Project builds upon the stream monitoring of the Valley of the Fox Group (Fox River) and the River Prairie Group (DuPage River). Three new groups began water-quality monitoring with the startup of the Sentinels project - Heart of Illinois Group (Illinois River), Chicago Group (Lake Michigan), McHenry County (Fox and Kishwaukee) - and a new effort by the Kishwaukee Solduc Group (Kishwaukee River) will launch in September 2002.

All Illinois Water Sentinels monitoring projects conduct the chemical and/or biological water quality monitoring needed to address issues specific to their waterbody. The Valley of the Fox, River Prairie and Heart of Illinois groups have focused their attention on nutrient pollution, due to the recognized nutrient problem in Illinois and the lack of state water-quality standards for nutrients. The Chicago Group is monitoring bacterial levels at Lake Michigan beaches. The McHenry County and Kishwaukee Solduc Group are monitoring some of Illinois' highest quality streams in the Fox and Kishwaukee watersheds, streams which are lying in the path of anticipated urban sprawl. These projects are gathering baseline data for these high quality streams, building a firewall of information against any possible degradation.

The Illinois Sentinels project continues the multifaceted approach to Clean Water Act enforcement taken by the Illinois Chapter. Staff serves on the multi-stakeholder Fox River Study Group which has undertaken a $1.6 million effort to model the Fox River watershed in order to identify the pollution reductions, or other changes needed in the watershed, necessary to comply with the federal Clean Water Act and to make the Fox healthy. The model will be used to guide future development in the Fox basin to ensure that the long term health of the river can be maintained.

In addition, staff monitors discharge permits under review by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and sewer line expansion requests and participates in proceedings before the Illinois Pollution Control Board pertaining to changes in water quality standards, permitting and enforcement procedures. Staff and volunteers have been reviewing Discharge Monitoring Reports to identify dischargers who are violating their permits. Staff also serves on IEPA's Nutrient Standards Development Science Committee and the Biological Subcommittee-Lower Des Plaines River Use Classification Workgroup.

The Sentinels partner with other groups in their monitoring efforts, including McHenry County College, McHenry County Conservation District, Kane County Forest Preserve District, and McHenry County Defenders. The Fox River Study Group includes representation from the Fox River Water Reclamation District, Fox Metro Water Reclamation District, Fox River Ecosystem Partnership, IEPA, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission and many Fox watershed municipalities and counties. The Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest and Prairie Rivers Network also work closely with the Chapter's efforts on statewide water policy issues, permit review and permit enforcement.

  • In a nutshell
  • Accomplishments
  • Failure to enforce the law
  • Clean Water Act's 30th anniversary
  • There are lots of ways to help Illinois Sentinels!

    There's plenty you can do to help the Illinois Water Sentinels, whether or not you want to stand in a stream and take water samples. To get involved, contact Water Sentinel Cindy Skrukrud or the Illinois Chapter office at (312) 251-1680.

    You may also link to the local groups engaged in river monitoring from the Illinois Chapter website.

    Photo: Illinois Water Sentinels held a press conference to announce the results of their summer-long fecal coliform bacteria sampling on Lake Michigan. Photo by Jennifer Hensley. Photo of Cindy Skrukrud by Tom von Geldern.

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