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I&M Canal springs major leak.

John Gillio

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Some time over the last day or two the I&M Canal aqueduct over the Little Vermilion R. has sprung a major leak. I spoke to a fellow with the DNR this morning and he said the canal is next to dry east of the aqueduct. The canal at lock 14 has dropped a foot and is dropping fast. 

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2 hours ago, John Flannery said:

That is terrible. Is the Army Corps in charge of it?


Forget the army corp. We need a little dutch boy. I seem to recall something about holding back an ocean...

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I have been told that sometime this afternoon  water will begin being pumped into the Lock 14 area West of the aqueduct. The water will come from the Little Vermilion River.The canal was down 30" this morning when I took a walk. It can drop another inch or two before the remaining old dike will stop it. It may stop sooner if they put some sandbags in. The easy side is missing half of itsold dike so water continues to escape from it.

I was also told that after July 1 there is money put aside for a permanent fix. I'm  not sure if that means a fix for both sides of the aqueduct or just the West side with the canal boat.

Pictures to follow.

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Drove past aqueduct at 3:15. No sandbags or water being pumped yet. A couple guys taking measurements at far end of aqueduct. Water slowly leaking through west dike into aqueduct. Here are some photos from this morning:

Lock 14: Water usually to grass line 30" higher than shown.


West dike is usually under water a few inches. Water still slowly flowing out of lock 14 area into aqueduct at upper end of photo where the cup is.1067163619_20180620_083454_resized(600x800).thumb.jpg.6ca4fb66c0567d3727ab59faa49a878c.jpg


East dike also usually a few inches under water. Only half of dike still here. Water is moving to left into aqueduct. About 4'-5' of water here for about 10 yds. Then 3"-6" all the way to Duck club.



Water below Rt 39 bridge at about 6". You are looking at the bottom of the canal.



Looking east toward Duck club water is about 12". Club has a deeper area that is about 20 yds long. It is about 3' deep and is loaded with fish. I couldn't get a good shot of them. The water runs at about 12" for about 200 yds until it slowly tapers off to nothing before it reaches split rock, which is about half way from LaSalle to Utica. This is the area I was doing very well fishing for carp on the fly. Many Fantails in this area.



Here you can see the 30" drop in level. Notice the scum drooping from the branches above the water. These branches had been drooping into the water.



This is the inside of the aqueduct. Water is usually pouring out of the slots that can be seen running along the wall of the aqueduct. They act as a spillway for the canal . The water pours into the Little Vermilion River which the aqueduct and tow path both pass over. At this point water is pouring out of the bottom of the aqueduct into the river below. You can see people in white on tow path looking into aqueduct.

20180620_150911_resized (800x600).jpg

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John, your coverage of this has been fantastic. Bet the News Tribune would love using your excellent photos to cover this story. Maybe the paper changed names but I know they are the same org as the Wheaton paper, and they love having help in getting real news out. Using the press kept people honest in Wheaton and led to preservation of the Wheaton house. 

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Thank you for sharing. That is amazing. Hopefully this rain will fill it back in and allow the fish to live another day. 


If you see a red Murry banana seat bike like this, let me know. It was stolen back in 1985 and assumed the local dirtball used it to ride down to the canal to smoke his Marlboro reds. 




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3 hours ago, mannym said:

Thank you John. Hopefully, the creatures that live there get much needed help. 

I bet the bugs are Incredible right now. 

Bugs aren't bad late morning or early evening.

DNR was hard at work today. They sandbagged the West side of the aqueduct and are now pumping water back into the canal west of the aqueduct. This is a temporary fix. They couldn't tell me when a permanent fix would happen, only that it would be after July 1. They also couldn't  say if the east end of the aqueduct would be diked to prevent the water to the east from emptying  out. I walked east quite a way. There wasn't  much water but no sign of a fish kill was evident.


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Glad to see action taken. From your posts it appears that a lot of people fish there. Glad they did something before a big fish kill happened.

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  • 1 month later...
On 8/1/2018 at 9:37 AM, Rob G said:

No doubt in my mind.



Rob, did you capture a photo of one of the canal fish moving from the east end canal accross the aqueduct to the West end.

I just wad told that because of low flows in the Little VermilionRiver, water cannot be pumped into the West end and it is dropping again. The csnal boat is unable to run. The DNR has now built a coffer dam on the east end of the aqueduct and will be pumping water into the east end of the canal from the Illinois River. When it fills they will pump water accross the dry aqueduct to the West end so the canal boat can once again resume operations. Eventually the aqueduct will be fixed so a proper flow of water can resume.

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  • 2 months later...

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