The Illinois River could have a brighter, cleaner future ahead.
A regional coalition of county leaders and environmentalists are celebrating the announcement that the US Army Corps of Engineers will commit labor and funding to prioritize projects to revitalize the Illinois River. It's an effort nearly 20 years in the making.
The Peoria Lakes Basin Alliance is made up of representatives from the Heartland Water Resources Council of Central Illinois, the Nature Conservancy and the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission.
The Army Corps accepted the PLBA’s proposed Comprehensive Conservation Plan that aims to improve the quality and depth of the Illinois River.
“The Corps’ primary concern for years and years and years has been navigation," Miller said. "We’re getting them to look beyond just keeping the navigation channel open and looking into some techniques that would make the river an attraction, a destination for the Peoria area.”
For instance: recreational activities, like paddle boarding or swimming. Possible projects also include dredging the bottom to improve accessibility for freight.
Miller says the public will be invited to weigh in on potential projects this summer. The Peoria Lakes Basin Alliance is expected to sign an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers in Rock Island early next month.