Urban Agriculture Could Be the Next Solution for Alleviating Peoria's CSO Problem

Jun 27, 2017

Credit Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

A vacant lot in Peoria’s Warehouse District could soon become an urban garden. It’s the next project identified by the City to help divert stormwater from the river. 

Chicago-based organization Fresh Coast Capital and local food non-profit Gifts in the Moment are developing the space into an urban agriculture and stormwater management project with a $1 million  federal matching grant.

The City of Peoria and the US Environmental Protection Agency are still in settlement talks, regarding the city’s Combined Sewer Overflow, or CSO, problem.  Essentially, raw sewage contaminates Peoria’s lakes and river after heavy rainfall.

“We’re looking proactive at where looking at this kind of project being completed. So this is not a one off and we’re done. As we are improving various areas around the first district that also happen to be in the CSO areas we are looking at where we can apply green infrastructure to that project,” First District Councilwoman, Denise Moore said. 

While those talks are pending, the city is moving forward on more environmental projects aimed at diverting rainwater away from storm drains. The latest project is developing an urban agriculture space on about an acre of vacant land in the Warehouse District. 

“It makes it a green space where people can walk and walk through for their health purposes. It brings back native planting that we’ve not seen in this area for a while, and so it’s doing a lot of things in addition to putting people to work,” Moore said.   

The Stormwater Pilot Project at Reed and Elm would be an arable plot for growing food and flowers. It would also divert stormwater from Hurlburt Street and South West Reed Avenue, while improving walkability in the area. 

The estimated cost of addressing Peoria’s Combined Sewer Overflow issue is between $200-300-million. Stormwater management projects, like the one on Reed and Elm, can help alleviate the problem and reduce the cost of fixing it.