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Protecting rivers and streams

Protecting rivers and streams

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    Left: John White (center), Streamwood's director of public works, points out some of the features of a new stormwater cleaning unit during installation in Streamwood, III. Greg Sterchi (left) of CDS Technologies and Trudy Buehler of Mackie Consultants in Rosemont, III., look on. Right: The view from the top of a unit reveals the diversion chamber where debris and suspended solids settle out of the incoming stormwater. The unit is designed with a sump that typically has to be cleaned only one or two times per year. Photo: Bob Mead

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    The CDS unit relies on water hydraulics and gravity. Stormwater enters the diversion chamber where a weir guides the flow into the unit's separation chamber. A vortex is formed that spins all floatables and most suspended solids to the center of the separation chamber. The trash and suspended solids settle into a sump where they remain until they are removed. The water passes through a self-cleaning screen with the cleaned water then being discharged. Source: CDS

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    Teacher Deb Perryman (left) and public works director John White work with a crew to clean up Poplar Creek and the Fox River. Photo: Bob Mead

Pollution solution—people

The active ingredient in pollution control is people

Streamwood, III., is fortunate to have a corps of people who are interested in reducing and eventually eliminating pollution of local surface water. Their efforts will pay off for the next generation of Streamwood residents.

Public works director John White has taken an active role in creating systems to clean stormwater runoff, often a significant contributor to water pollution. White also serves on the Poplar Creek Watershed Planning Committee, which represents the efforts of several local communities to clean up the streams and rivers northwest of Chicago.

The committee has assessed the local surface water pollution problem and made recommendations on best management practices to clean up Poplar Creek and the Fox River. The Illinois EPA will use some of the processes created by the Poplar Creek committee as a template for similar groups across the state. The ultimate result will be cleaner water throughout Illinois.

Another active participant in the project is Elgin High School teacher Deb Perryman. Perryman, the 2004-05 Illinois Teacher of the Year, is playing a vital role in local environmental protection. She and her students monitor the water quality in Poplar Creek and their ongoing research will help public works officials like White make future decisions about treatment needs. She and her students also stenciled some 750 storm drains instructing people not to dump wastewater or pollutants into the storm sewer system. Many of these students, now aware of stormwater pollution issues, will become voters and community leaders in years to come.

The efforts of White, Perryman, and others have been enhanced by the support of local governments and even private business. Residential home builder Pulte Homes, one of the nation's largest developers, embraced a new storm sewer designed by White and Buehler that will remove much of the pollution that used to reach Poplar Creek. The company could have pushed for a cheaper or faster solution, but instead opted for the long-term solution—an effective cleaning system that is easily maintained.

This type of public-private collaboration will have a definite impact on the waterways near Stream-wood. Within a few months the streams and rivers near Chicago will be cleaner and safer, thanks to some active ingredients.