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Strange Sediment Plume


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While fishing this evening, a plume of sediment suddenly coursed throught the waterway withought a change in water volume. I have looked at regional radar and saw no real storms in the watershed. I also hiked upstream to where there is a major discharge pipe. The discharge was normal. In fact, the clearndischarge seemed to have dammed up the sediment flow above it causing a backwater of sorts. The sediment was then integrating with the discharge water and continuing on down stream like a branch spilling clear water into a flooded stream. I hope to investigate more tomorrow, but has anyone ever seen anything like this before ?

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The only thing I've seen similar to what you're describing, is while wading scaring up a school of carp or a large catfish.

This on a much larger scale, its filling the stream channel. I checked one access above and below my point last night and the one above is clear as a bell. The one below shows more turbidity. I'm going to hike the stream bank to investigate. There is some heavy equipment use going on above my access point.

My only other guess is beaver activity. We'll see.

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I went back this afternoon and found the possible sourceof the turbidity. Material of some sort from constructiuon work appears to be dumped into the waterway. The material is very fine like stone cutting waste or concrete powder etc. I snapped a bunch of photos and have been in touch with the EPA. Thet say they will notify me of any developments.

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OK. Here's the scoop:

A contractor was pumping bentonite clay discharge as a by-product of some construction work they were doing for the local sanitary district. Not toxic stuff, but we all know how destructive sedimentation can be. Especially nery fine particulate. What if all that clay had dropped on spawning beds ? Below is the follow up I recieved from the investigating officer.

 

"The discharge was an accidental discharge of bentonite clay material and naturally occurring material that is used in many applications. Yesterday, the contractor placed sand bags around the largest deposit of the material and vacuumed as much as possible into a truck for proper disposal.

In this case, a violation notice will be sent to both the sanitary district and the contractor. That notice will be sent in a letter from our Compliance Assurance Section (CAS) in Springfield. The notice gives the responsible parties a chance to explain what happened and requires them to provide a plan of compliance to prevent further releases of this type. Since this is the first improper release by this contractor, it is likely that CAS will accept the compliance plan if it meets their criteria. The sanitary district will have to modify their pollution prevention plan to prevent a recurrence.

 

An incident of this type could lead to a referral to the Illinois Attorney General."

 

A little beaurocratic to be sure, but I am impressed that they had to clean it up, and that both the contractor and, more importantly, the sanitary district, will have to be more considerate of this sort of thing in the future. I hope they realize that peole care and will catch them if they fail again.

Thanks to ISA for providing a venu to share this. It was empowering, and I am not sure that I would have been as comfortable to investigate my suspicions If I had been working in a vacuum.

 

Good Fishing Everyone

 

Ben

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Wow! Good job, Ben. The moral of the story? One concerned fisherman can make a difference. Thanks from all the fish that can now breathe easier!

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Thanks to ISA for providing a venu to share this. It was empowering, and I am not sure that I would have been as comfortable to investigate my suspicions If I had been working in a vacuum.

 

You're welcome to share information any time Ben. Thanks again for the follow through and report.

 

Don

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
nice follow up. would make a nice article for the newsletter with a photo. and it would encourage others to get involved thanks rich

Thanks to everyone with the very complimentary remarks.

I'd be happy to put something together for a newsletter if you like. Just let me know what I can do.

The next major thing on the itinerary seems to be addressing the park closings. Kickapoo and Middle Fork would eba real loss to an area already somewhat depapuerate in scenic outdoor opportunities.

 

Ben

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