Innovative Illinois EPA Effort to Invest More than $5 Million in Sustainable Infrastructure Statewide
STERLING – Governor Pat Quinn announced more than $5 million in investments to 13 communities across Illinois for green infrastructure improvement projects. Illinois Green Infrastructure Grants (IGIG) are designed to support projects that reduce the amount of pollution running into Illinois waterways from stormwater sources and reduce the risk of localized flooding. This announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations, while creating construction jobs.
“Over the past year we have seen firsthand the impact that heavy rain can have on our communities,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “These green investments will not only lessen the damage of these storms but will reduce pollution and harmful runoff, improve water quality and ensure that our communities are more prepared for future floods.”
Any stormwater management project with the goal of preserving or restoring natural hydrology is known as “green infrastructure.” This can include methods of using soil and vegetation for the preservation and restoration of natural landscape features, such as forests, floodplains, headwaters and wetlands. Projects that could also be considered green infrastructure consist of permeable pavement, rain gardens and barrels, downspouts and bioswales. The goal of these measures is to reduce nonpoint source pollution.
Nonpoint source pollution occurs when runoff from rain and snowmelt carries pollutants into waterways. As water travels, it picks up litter, oil, grease, metals, rubber, dirt, fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste, and eventually deposits them into surface and underground sources of drinking water.
“The IGIG program is a key environmental initiative of the administration of Governor Quinn and is facilitating hundreds of model green practices to prevent stormwater runoff pollution across our state in tandem with enthusiastic local governments,” said Director Bonnett. “This project in Sterling is the largest single IGIG grant so far and will not only be a national showcase of green infrastructure but, along with previous brownfields remediation program assistance, is another major step in Illinois EPA’s long-term partnership with the city to turn the former Northwestern Steel & Wire site into a recreational and scenic asset for the community.”
Sterling is receiving a $1.3 million award for its efforts in revitalizing the former Northwestern Steel & Wire brownfield site, which operated from 1879 to 2001, and developing it as an eco-tourism destination along the Rock River. The Whiteside County Greenways and Trails Plan proposes a riverfront trail on the south side of the river in downtown Rock Falls, running between the Hennepin Feeder Canal Trail and the Avenue G Bridge and Lawrence Park. A trail along Sterling’s Riverfront area would create a full circuit of dedicated trails on both sides of the Rock River as it passes through Sterling and Rock Falls and connects to the Hennepin Feeder Canal Trail.
This project features nine acres of natural landscape restoration that will filter stormwater, more than 4,500 square feet of grass or bio swale; an 877 foot by eight foot tall green vertical vegetative wall, a wetland/pond complex that will improve water quality, 3,000 square feet of publicly-accessible green roofs, three cisterns to harvest rainwater for irrigation, 7,800 square feet of traditional rain gardens and a 24,000 square foot pourous pavement parking lot that will reduce harmful runoff.
Sterling has also received $900,000 from Governor Quinn’s Mud to Parks program, which will allow 60,000 cubic yards of dredged material from Fox Lake to be used as environmentally friendly cover on the brownfield.
“The City of Sterling has worked diligently for a number of years now to reinvent its downtown recognizing the intrinsic value borne of its location along the Rock River,” Sterling Mayor Skip Lee said. “The stormwater project will become the riverfront foundation for green and sustainable development including recreational, public space as well as commercial development. On behalf of the City of Sterling, we are extremely grateful to Governor Quinn, Directors Bonnett and Miller for their leadership, partnership and support.”
2013 is the third year of IGIG and the program has previously awarded more than $9 million to 23 green infrastructure projects around the state. Included among the many improvements these projects have made are the installation of nearly 150 cisterns or rain barrels, 220 downspouts, 184 rain gardens, four green roofs, three urban wetlands and six acres of permeable pavement. For more information of about the Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program and how to apply, visit epa.state.il.us/water/financial-assistance/igig.html.
List of Illinois Green Infrastructure Grants (PDF)
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