McLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — At Monday’s Bloomington City Council meeting, the council approved an agreement with the Town of Normal, McLean County, and the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, for Bloomington-Normal based nonprofit Ecology Action Center, to continue providing storm water education and outreach programming to residents of McLean County.
City of Bloomington Director of Public Works Kevin Kothe said storm water education and community outreach is a requirement for Bloomington and Normal in order for them to get a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit (MS4) from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
“And so instead of each community going off and doing their own education and outreach, we partnered with the Ecology Action Center to do that for the whole community,” said Kothe.
Michael Brown, the Executive Director for Ecology Action Center, said storm sewer systems are vulnerable to storm water run-off pollution.
He added, that can be anything from fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides, to automobile fluids like motor oil, anti-freeze, and brake fluid.
“Every time it rains, they get picked up by the rain water, and wash off into the gutter on the street, that leads down into the storm sewer system, whether it’s going into a ditch and a drain, or going into the creeks and the streams, these water bodies all then assemble and dump into larger bodies of water,” said Brown.
Larger bodies of water can include the ones we get our clean water from.
Now with an additional $42,296 coming from the City of Bloomington, the Town of Normal, McLean County, and the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, the Ecology Action Center can continue to offer programming to educate the public about reducing water pollution for an additional three years.
One program the Ecology Action Center offers is a create your own rain barrel workshop.
“We help residents make their own low cost, very effective, very high-quality rain barrels, to collect storm water, to collect rain water, and then use it in their gardens, on the lawns, wherever they want, this helps reduce that medium of the storm water that carries those pollutants into bodies of water,” said Brown.
They also offer classroom education to students across McLean County, as well as volunteer opportunities like their Sugar Creek Stewardship Program.
“Volunteers go and they remove invasive and exotic species, brush, and weeds from areas along Sugar Creek, and help restore it with native plants and vegetation, which provide greater benefits in terms of stabilization of the stream banks, better filtration of pollutants, better habitat for native wildlife, and many other benefits,” said Brown.
He said a good way to find out about Ecology Action Center projects, resources, and ways to get involved, is to visit Mcleanwater.org