PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Sanitary sewage has been pouring into the Illinois River since the late 1800s, and the city of Peoria is working to stop it.

The city is working on an 18-year program that starts on June 15 to get rid of combined sewer overflow (CSO).

“Combined sewer is a pipe that carries both stormwater and sanitary sewage, and when that pipe gets overcapacity, it overflows into the river,” said Andrea Klopfenstein, city engineer.

The city will be creating projects over the next 18 years to ensure a cleaner Illinois River, and the first project is already in the works.

“This project will include permeable pavers, which are pavers on the road that have gaps in them that let the water soak into the ground and infiltrate, keeping them out of the stormwater system and then planted bump-outs. So, these will be like rain gardens that are going to capture water, and then the plants will soak them into the ground,” said Klopfenstein.

Taking three weeks to complete one block at a time, the job will be done from Glen Oak to Adams, and Spring to Cornhill, wrapping up at the end of 2022.

“We are starting work on a design for year number two this year, and once we figure out what that will be, we will start public meetings for that part of town,” said Klopfenstein.

In the 1980s, the city created a project that lowered the number of CSOs to combat the problem, but now there’s more work to be done, according to the city engineer.