Environment and Sustainability | WGLT

Environment and Sustainability

McLean County Residents Fear Water Crisis

Feb 9, 2016
Judith Valente

McLean County residents who receive their water from Lake Bloomington and Lake Evergreen believe they will likely face a water shortage as well as water quality issues within the next decade. They are split, however, on whether drilling for a new well, tapping into an existing aquifer, or constructing another surface reservoir similar to those two lakes is the solution.


A solution for bulk waste pickup may have been found in Bloomington. The issue has been under deliberation for over two years, but the council will vote on a plan that would provide free drop-off at a city facility, but charge $20 for the first bucket at the curb, and $40 for additional buckets on the same day as the first.

During a work session last month, Alderwoman Joni Painter said she is skeptical of the proposal. 

"Whatever we do, I want it to work, and I don't think this will," she said. "It'll start neighbor wars. People will dump places where they shouldn't."

Peabody Energy

A Midwest environmental group is questioning the ability of the country's largest coal producer to guarantee it has enough money for future cleanup of its Illinois mines. State regulators allow St. Louis-based Peabody Energy to pledge it has adequate assets to pay for the estimated $92 million needed to reclaim three southern Illinois mines once there's no coal left to extract. The Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center says that arrangement puts Illinois taxpayers at risk should Peabody go bankrupt. Five other major coal companies have sought bankruptcy protection since 2014.

Illinois Experiences Average January

Feb 3, 2016
Gibonb / Facebook via Creative Commons

The wild temperature swings felt in Illinois this January canceled each other out, averaging to 26.7 degrees, just a fraction of a degree above average. Climatologist Jim Angel calls the temperature swings impressive, but also typical of winter in Illinois. He says the first nine days of January were above average, followed by four days below average, then three days above average. The second half of the month started much below average, but steadily warmed. The temperature was 20 degrees above average by the end of the month. January snowfall ranged from 2 to 5 inches in most places.

Some Connect Transit Routes Change Today

Feb 1, 2016
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Beginning today (Mon, Feb. 1) updated routes for some Connect Transit buses will take effect.

The Bloomington-Normal bus service says the Red B and Yellow G Routes will stay on Euclid Avenue, no longer turning on Illinois/Olive in order to stop on Erickson.  This change is being made to accommodate 40 foot buses, and also to avoid an area that is frequently detoured due to winter road conditions.

Connect Transit

Bloomington-Normal’s bus system is making it  easier for customers and drivers to handle fares. Connect Transit is installing 53 automatic fare boxes, one on every fixed route and Connect Mobility bus.  Public Outreach Coordinator Gabe Goldsmith says the electronic fare collection system includes mobile ticketing via smart phones and cards with magnetic strips, similar to those issued by parking decks.  

Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner is commending 4th Ward Alderman Amelia Buragas for looking out for her constituents. She tabled an ordinance on December 21st prohibiting water well drilling because of a pollution plume near the corner of Linden and Emerson in order to learn more about the situation. The ordinance was approved last night. In this Sound Ideas interview excerpt, Tari Renner tells WGLT's Mike McCurdy the likelihood of further pollution is low.

Illinois American Seeking Water Rate Hike

Jan 22, 2016
Scott Robinson / Flickr via Creative Commons

Illinois American Water has filed a request for an 18 percent statewide rate increase for all of the water and sewer company's operating districts in Illinois. The request would increase the average company customer's base water and sewer service rate by $7.57 per month. The proposed increase is pending approval by the Illinois Commerce Commission. Company spokeswoman Karen Cotton says the commission's decision won't come until the end of this year. The company says the requested rate increase is driven by investments in infrastructure improvements statewide.

Deer Harvest Exceeds 150,000

Jan 20, 2016

More than 155,000 deer were harvested by Illinois hunters during the 2015-2016 deer hunting seasons. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says about 155,130 deer were harvested this year, compared to 145,720 deer last year. Hunters took about 56,730 deer during the archery season from Oct. 1 to Jan. 17. Young hunters harvested about 2,840 deer during the youth season from Oct. 10 to 12. Nearly 86,900 deer were taken during the traditional firearm season from Nov. 20 to 22 and Dec. 3 to 6. Hunters harvested 2,375 deer during the muzzleloader-only season from Dec. 11 to 13.

Nora Dukowitz / City of Bloomington

People who use the Lincoln Leisure Center in Bloomington will have to find find their city program elsewhere for a while. Workers found asbestos in the 1913 era boiler room of the building on South Lee Street. Tim Kiefer of Farnsworth Consultants says most boilers that old have asbestos but, if it's not crumbling or flaking, it's not a problem.

A Guide to Enjoying Nature, Even During Winter

Jan 7, 2016

The Land Connection

A central Illinois farmer is this year's Sustainable Agriculture Award winner in Illinois. Harold Wilken farms more than 2,000 acres near Danforth in Iroquois County.

Gov Tours Flood Sites

Jan 4, 2016
Jeff Bossert / WILL

Governor Bruce Rauner says state government has help for flood-damaged counties --- but not in the form of money to cover flood-related expenses. Rauner visited the Douglas County town of Villa Grove yesterday, part of a three-day tour of flooded counties that have been declared state disaster areas. Rauner says the state's inability to provide flood-relief funding has nothing to do with Illinois’ budget impasse.

More Questions Than Answers Over Pollution

Dec 22, 2015
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Aldermen are discussing a contamination problem in a four block area of Bloomington near the intersection of Linden and Emerson Streets. The source is a Freedom gas station, across from a child care facility, and within yards of Sugar Creek. As part of the consent agenda, the council was going to vote to prohibit water wells in the contaminated area, but Alderman Amelia Buragas, who represents the area, asked to table the issue. During GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Tari Renner says it was premature to have it on the consent agenda.

Carp Accord Comes A Cropper

Dec 16, 2015

The quest for a surefire way to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes appears to be foundering. Scientists discovered DNA from the aggressive fish in Chicago-area waterways in 2009. Government agencies have spent more than $300 million on short-term measures such as electric barriers to block their path.

But the region is divided over a long-term solution.

An advisory panel representing businesses, environmentalists and other interest groups has scheduled what may be its last meeting Thursday.

Great Lake Cleanup Money Restored

Dec 16, 2015

A wide-ranging Great Lakes cleanup program appears to have survived the latest attempt to cut it. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would get $300 million next year under a massive spending bill crafted by congressional negotiators. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the package this week. President Barack Obama created the initiative, which tackles some of the lakes' most serious environmental problems. Among them are toxic pollution, invasive species and nutrient runoff that causes harmful algae blooms.

ISU Professor Says World Lakes Heating Up

Dec 16, 2015
Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory / NOAA

An ISU geology professor is one of the founding members of a group that is releasing a report today on warming lakes. Catherine O’Reilly won a fraction of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. WGLT's Jim Browne sits down with her to determine the extent, and ramifications of the phenomenon.

Michael Brown / Ecology Action Center

The household hazardous waste collection event at Mitsubishi two months ago is being deemed a huge success by organizers. Michael Brown, Executive Director with the Ecology Action Center, says both fundraising and material volume goal were exceeded. He says costs came in lower than expected, meaning some funds for the next collection in two years are already in house.

Leonard G. / Wikimedia Commons

Negotiators at  the U.N. climate change conference in Paris have reached a rough blueprint for reining in emissions and reducing global warming. Many issues remain and those will need to be resolved by the summit’s end on Friday. WGLT's Mike McCurdy talked with two Illinois volunteers with the Citizens' Climate Lobby about their plan to address global climate change.

Staff / WGLT

While some people ride recreationally, an increasing number are using their bicycles to get to work, the store, and doctor.  The National Household Travel Survey showed that the number of trips made by bicycle in the U.S. more than doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009. Bike BloNo, a Bloomington-Normal bicycle advocacy organization, recently helped compiled statistics to see where, and when, it's safest to ride your bike.

Monarch Milkweed Incentives Promised

Nov 27, 2015

Federal officials want landowners in Illinois and nine other states to grow milkweed to boost the population of monarch butterflies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to spend $4 million in 2016 to help farmers and others plant milkweed and other nectar-producing plants. The agency wants to re-establish habitats for monarchs and pollinators in general. Milkweed is essential for monarchs since it is the only plant on which the butterfly will lay its eggs. It takes three to four generations for the monarchs to migrate to roosting spots in mountains of central Mexico.  

Winter Is Coming

Nov 20, 2015

Northern Illinois could see 10 inches of snow as the first wintry storm of the season comes into the state.  
 The National Weather Service says a mix of rain and snow Friday evening will turn to snow on Saturday. Snowfall totals will be as high as 8 to 10 inches across north-central Illinois. The area near Interstate 80 is forecast to see 3 to 6 inches and the shores of Lake Michigan should see 2 to 5 inches.  Central Illinois including the WGLT listening area will see 1 to 3 inches.

New Solar Farm Helping Power U of I Campus

Nov 19, 2015
Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

Drive down Windsor Avenue through the south end of the University of Illinois Urbana campus, and you can see the array of black objects on the south side of the road near the railroad tracks. Those are solar panels --- thousands of them. And while an official ribbon-cutting was held just Thursday morning Nov. 19, the panels are already generating electricity for the campus.

Mike Bernico / Bike BloNo

A new study says the largest single chunk of bicycle versus auto accidents in Bloomington Normal happen to bicyclists who are using sidewalks. Michael Gorman of the advocacy group Bike BloNo says it's safest for cyclists to behave like motorists and follow the rules of the road on the streets because cyclists are more visible to people around you.

Gorman says bikers are most visible when they are behaving like motorists and following the rules of the road, but car drivers may not notice bikers when the head into an intersection from a sidewalk.

Flagging A Bus Soon Thing Of The Past

Nov 6, 2015
Staff / WGLT

Beginning Monday, Connect Transit buses in Bloomington-Normal will only stop at designated spots.  Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson says the signs marking bus stops have been up for a few weeks now, and he hopes the public is ready for the transition. He says the new system will increase efficiency, and cut down on travel times.

Illinois has joined 17 states supporting new domestic power plant limits being challenged in federal court by more than two dozen other states. The motion to intervene was filed in a federal appellate court in Washington by state Attorney General Lisa Madigan. California, New York and Virginia are among the other states siding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the cities of Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.  

Asian Carp On The Move

Nov 2, 2015
File / Microsoft Sample Pictures

Federal crews have discovered two Asian carp in the Illinois River, 12 miles closer to Lake Michigan than where others of that size previously were seen. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teams found two silver carp about 6 1/2 inches long late last month in the river's Marseilles Pool near Seneca. That means the leading edge of the river's juvenile Asian carp population is about 66 miles closer to Lake Michigan than it was at the beginning of this year.