Public Weighs In On Future of Peoria Lakes

Aug 30, 2017

The Peoria Lakes, seen from Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A coalition of government and environmental groups in the Tri-County region is sailing closer toward finalizing massive projects to improve the Peoria Lakes. The Peoria Lakes Basin Alliance compiled responses from an open house last month that asked residents: “what’s your favorite memory of the Peoria Lakes?”

Former PLBA president Russ Crawford fondly remembers swimming across the lake, shore-to-shore, as a teenager.  

“But I did it again...the last time I did it, was in my 50s.”

That time was different. Over the years, several feet of sediment collected on the bottom of the river. And that, Crawford says, almost killed him.

“I put my foot down to rest, and my foot started to go in the sedimentation. I started to sink like quicksand. And, I thought, I’m going to drown.”

Russ Crawford, obviously, did not drown, but the sediment stuck with him, in a sense.

A display board from an open house the Peoria Lakes Basin Alliance hosted last month. Feedback gathered from the event will be factored into prioritizing future river conservation projects.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

In July, the PLBA last month collected feedback from the public to compile in its final project to improve the river. Reducing sediment got the most public support.

People identified 14 different possible projects aimed at improving the water quality and navigability of the river and lakes Crawford says the feedback will be factored into the organization’s plans ahead, but ultimately, it will depend on funding.  

“Each one of those projects is going to have to have a funding source, and each one of those projects is going to have to have what I call, ‘project owners.’”

For instance, he says, the Army Corps of Engineers could take “ownership” of a project that’s part of its scope of work, or it could also partner with another public or private entity.

The PLBA says it anticipates a plan should be finalized by next Spring. Public review of the river project is slated for January.