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Bloomington Set To Update Watershed Plans

Lake Bloomington
Bloomington plans to examine whether it needs to change watershed practices for its two drinking water sources Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake.

Bloomington is looking up update its watershed plans for Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake to ensure the city's drinking waterremains safe.
The city council on Monday night will consider a watershed study through the McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Jim Karch
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch said improved farming practices have reduced nitrate runoff into Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake since the city's last watershed program was implemented in 2008.

Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch said the city's current watershed plans are a decade old and need to be updated.

“There have been some new technologies and some new things we are hoping to implement with over 100,000 square milesof impacted area there in the watersheds of both of those lakes,” Karch said.

Karch said new technology could include bioswales, which are landscaping elements that remove debris and pollution from surface water runoff.

Those lakes have had high nitrate levels in the past, but Karch said improved farming practices over the last decade have reduced that.

“The next step that we are really looking at is to expand that into the urban environment,” Karch said. “What sort of improvement can we make in our community, north Normal and those type of areas to try to help minimize the non-point source pollution that is seen.”

The city would pay $71,000 for the study. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency would pay $60,000 and the Illinois Farm Bureau is pitching in $20,000.

McLean County and the Town of Normal would help with public education and advocacy, based on an intergovernmental agreement signed last year with the MCSWCD.

Karch said the study should take up to 18 months.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.