Move on the river before it is too late
The symposium held at the Gateway Building on March 7 was a loud call for money to save the Illinois River. This was heard by all the political players that intend to help.
This is the same call I listened to in the year 2000 at the same Gateway Building, and since the year 2000 the only solution published is to dredge the river and build mud islands.
This offers nothing to the problem of silting.
This is the main problem and until it is solved, the river will continue to die. The following was my proposal to the river problems that I discussed with various politicians who agreed it seemed like a workable plan, but there is still a faction that wants to dredge the river.
In my mind, this would be a waste of tax dollars. These dollars should be used to stop the silting.
In the 1950s I built a home and lived on the Illinois River in Rome for many years, until the floods chased me out. Since the 1950s, I have continued boating and have gone from watching the fish swim in six feet of water in Rome, to lily pads and water weeds from the banks of the river then to the channel. Rock and sand banks are now covered with mud silt. The water weeds and fish are being killed and the recreation areas destroyed in just 50 years.
Most of this damage was done in 20 years, just after World War II. Manufacturing up river discharged waste and chemicals that killed the vegetation and fish.
Farming and earth moving equipment loosened the soil next to the rivers and creeks, making silting a major problem.
In my estimation, the river has less than 25 years to survive without something being done.
I would like to propose placing turn dams at the mouth of each creek and dikes to hold the water up to the dam. The dam would deliver clear water, after the silt has fallen out in the dammed up area. In periods of normal pool stage, either sell the silt that has fallen out of the staging areas or lease the right to a company involved in selling top soil. Other controlled practices need to be put in place to reduce disturbing the soil next to the creeks or river.
Granted, the wash-in from rains and farming close to the river and tributaries cause siltation, but there are seven major creeks that dump silt into the river at the rate of about 11 feet per year beyond the mouth of major creeks.
The major creeks in our pool are Spring Creek Branch, northwest of Chillicothe Santa Fe Bridge; Crow Creek, northeast of Chillicothe Santa Fe Bridge; Rome Point Creek, southeast of Rome, east side; Spring Bay Blue Creek, east side across from Mossville; Mossville Creek, west side of the river in Mossville; Ten Mile Creek, east side north of the McCluggage Bridge; Farm Creek (two channels) east and west of the
Route 74 Bridge.
After controlling the silt, we could petition the Lake Michigan control system to give us enough water to raise our pool stages one foot. If this is possible, we could have a first-class river for barge traffic and recreational purposes.
I don't think we will ever see the river as it was in the 1940s & '50s, if something is not done to control the silt. This is the number one problem. Pumping the silt from the river is only a feeble band-aid and does nothing to control the river problems.