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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jul 2

Report: 10 Percent Of Illinois Beach Water Samples Have Unsafe Bacteria Levels

Hitting the beach this Fourth of July holiday?

A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggests that swimmers take precautions to avoid getting sick from beach water that might be contaminated.

The NRDC's annual "Testing the Waters" report showed that 10 percent of water samples taken last year from 49 monitored Illinois coastal beaches and beach segments — all located in Cook and Lake counties — tested positive for high levels of bacteria from human or animal waste. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Jul 1

Lake County Environmental Coalition Sends Petitions To NRG Energy Over Future Of Waukegan Coal Plant (VIDEO) (UPDATED)

Lake County residents and environmentalists are asking the new owner of Waukegan’s aging coal-fired power plant to produce a long-term transition plan for the facility in collaboration with local community stakeholders.

Toting signs reading "Clean air wins" and "It's time for a clean and healthy lakefront," about 25 members of the Clean Power Lake County Campaign mailed more than 2,500 petition postcards on Tuesday to New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc. The petition calls on the company to set a retirement date for the 90 year-old Waukegan plant, located on the city's lakefront, and make investments in clean energy projects that will hire local workers. A transition plan for the outdated plant should also consider the city of Waukegan's tax base as well as those currently employed at the site, the petition states.  Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Jun 19

Report: 6 Million Pounds Of Toxic Industrial Pollution Discharged Into Illinois Waterways (VIDEO)

Industrial facilities discharged 6.1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Illinois' rivers and streams in 2012, shows a new report by the Environment Illinois Research & Education Center.

The "Wasting Our Waterways" report ranks Illinois as the 13th worst U.S. state for the total volume of toxic industrial releases to waterways.

At the national level, polluting facilities dumped 206 million pounds of harmful chemicals into American waterways in 2012, according to the report. And some 8.39 million pounds of toxic pollution were discharged into the Great Lakes watershed. Ammonia, chromium and lead are among the chemicals released into Illinois' waterways, according to the report. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Oct 29, 2013

Environmentalists Want EPA, Obama To Close "Frightening" Clean Water Act Loopholes

Activists with Environment Illinois say it's time to give Lake Michigan the Halloween treat it deserves: protection from polluters. 

At a news conference at North Avenue beach Tuesday morning, environmental organizers said loopholes in the Clean Water Act have allowed Lake Michigan to become a "witch's brew of pollutants" for more than a decade, leaving nearly 56 percent of Illinois' streams unprotected. The unchecked pollution has the potential to put the drinking water of more than 1.6 million Illinoisans at risk, the group said.

In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a draft rule designed to help clarify which U.S. waters are subject to protections under the Clean Water Act. Environmentalists say the proposed rule would be a big step in helping to restore Clean Water Act protections for streams, wetlands and others waters.

The proposed rule takes into consideration a recent draft report the EPA issued detailing the findings of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed articles and studies about the connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters.

At today's press conference, the environmental organizers called on President Barack Obama to move forward with the proposed rule, which they say would help ensure Lake Michigan is protected from pollution such as sewage and runoff from factory farms. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Jul 3, 2013

Illinois Beaches Experience High Levels Of Contamination, Report Finds

Ten percent of water samples taken from the 65 beaches and beach segments of Illinois in 2012 tested positive for high levels of bacteria, according to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Illinois ranked 24th out of 30 states evaluated for beach water quality last year in the NRDC’s annual “Testing The Water” report. The state, which rose from being ranked 28th in 2011, has 52 public swimming beaches along the coast of Lake Michigan.

“We have a closed system here in the Great Lakes, and all of our pollution tends to linger,” said Karen Hobbs, senior policy analyst with NRDC. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s happening in Illinois. That’s why its important for beach managers to be proactive and be out there testing the water and identifying the sources of pollution.” Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 5, 2012

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Boosts Local Economy & Keeps Beaches Open

Fewer beaches in Illinois will be closed in upcoming summers and polluted waterways will be cleaned up as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to extend the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Obama’s pledge to further the program, which originated in 2009 and was set to expire in 2014, will mean more conservation groups and cities in the Great Lakes region will continue to receive money to preserve one of the country’s greatest assets, said Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
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