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New Threads
Midwest Fiber Recycling recently announced 2015 was a record year of recycling for businesses and municipalities throughout the Midwest, with 338,804,000 pounds of material diverted from landfills. With operations in Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Decatur, Springfield and Terre Haute, Indiana, the company says the material it recycled last year created enough energy savings to power an electric heater rated at 1000 watts for 2,402,120,360 hours, and spare 2,371,628 full-sized trees from being cut down. As recycling in surrounding communities rises, the company hopes to increase the amount of commodities transformed into useful raw materials for manufacturing, and to continue waste reduction and landfill diversion for future environmental impacts. To learn more, visit midwest-fiber.com 


What's a Water Footprint?
The amount of fresh water used in the production of goods and services, such as how much water it takes to grow, feed and make our food.

From the very high footprint of beef (consider the water cattle drinks, the water needed to grow the grass it eats, the water used in the cleaning and processing of meat…) to the low footprint of tea, here’s a snapshot of how many gallons it takes to make your favorite foods.

  • Beef: 461 gallons per ¼ lb.
  • Chocolate: 450 gallons per 3.5-ounce bar
  • Chicken: 130 gallons per ¼ lb.
  • Milk: 67 gallons per 8-oz glass
  • Wine: 56 gallons per 8-oz glass
  • Banana: 42 gallons per banana
  • Peach: 37 gallons per peach
  • Coffee: 34 gallons per 8-oz cup
  • Apple: 33 gallons per apple
  • Tomato: 13 gallons per tomato
  • Tea: 7 gallons per 8-oz cup

Sources: meetgreen.com; waterfootprint.org 

 

 

Water Scarcity on the Rise
The water we drink is just a small fraction of the water we use. According to The Nature Conservancy, agriculture accounts for approximately 71% of water withdrawals; energy production and other industries account for 16% and municipal water supply systems withdraw the remaining 13%The international conservation group predicts global freshwater withdrawals to increase 40% over the next three decades, with two thirds of the global population living in areas suffering from water stress by 2040. 

  

Gone to the Dogs
It’s a win-win-win: support a local business, rid the river of invasive Asian carp, and treat your pooch. Wilson’s All-Natural Pet Products, a Cuba, Illinois-based company, offers three varieties of its Asian carp delights—River Chips, Fish Bites and Fish Skinz—all made with invasive species straight from the Illinois River. Touting the treats as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, high in protein and low in mercury, the company may have found the perfect niche market for the pesky carp: a fishy taste perhaps only dogs will love. To purchase a bag of treats or to learn more about the company, visit wilsonallnatural.com or find them on Facebook. 

 


Go Fish!
Using 20 years of charter boat data from the Department of Natural Resources in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, a new web tool created by researchers at the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant seeks to provide anglers on Lake Michigan with information about catch rates of various fish over the past two decades. The first of its kind, the Lake Michigan Fish Catch Atlas maps species like rainbow trout, lake trout, Chinook salmon, brown trout and coho salmon, helping anglers to decide where to fish and what kind of fish to target. To follow its development, visit iiseagrant.org/fishatlas.  

 

A Day Without Water
Last fall, Illinois American Water held an art contest for third, fourth and fifth-grade classrooms within its service area, asking students to “Imagine a Day Without Water.” Artwork received from around the state featured everything from dire scenes of “houses burning down” and “farmers losing crops,” to “no new flowers” and “a lot of thing[s] you can’t do.” Among the contest winners was L.E. Starke Primary School student Riley Cady of Pekin and St. Jude Catholic School student Faith Randall of Peoria, who each received an award and cash donation for their classrooms. All the students’ winning artwork can be viewed on Illinois American Water’s Facebook page.  

 


 

Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy 
One significant threat to water quality is nutrient pollution, as excess nitrogen and phosphorus carried in runoff from streets and farm fields fuel algae blooms that reduce the oxygen levels in water needed by aquatic species. In recent years, nutrient pollution carried by the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico has become such a problem that a dead zone now stretches at the river’s mouth for thousands of square miles. 

The EPA now requires Midwestern states along the Mississippi to develop strategies that will lead to 45-percent reductions in their exports of nitrate and phosphorus downriver. The ultimate goal? To reduce the Gulf’s hypoxic (oxygen-less) zone to less than 2,000 square miles each summer.

These reductions would also improve local water quality in streams and lakes. Illinois’ strategy, developed by the Illinois EPA and Department of Agriculture, includes best practices like controlling fertilizer amounts and timing, the use of cover crops, tile bioreactors, constructed wetlands, tillage changes and riparian buffer strips. Learn more about the state’s plan at epa.illinois.gov/topics/water-quality/watershed-management/excess-nutrients/nutrient-loss-reduction-strategy.

 

Labeling Terms: A Liguid Glossary
Artesian water, ground water, spring water, well water: Water from an underground aquifer which may or may not be treated. Well water and artesian water are tapped through a well, while spring water is collected as it flows to the surface, or through a borehole. Ground water can be either artesian water or spring water.

Distilled water: Steam from boiling water is recondensed and bottled. Distilling water kills microbes, making it pure, but also removes water’s natural minerals, giving it a flat taste.

Drinking water: Water intended for human consumption. It’s sealed in bottles with no ingredients except optional disinfectants deemed safe for consumption. Fluoride may also be added.

Mineral water: Ground water naturally containing 250 or more parts per million of dissolved solids, including minerals and trace elements.

Source: nepis.epa.gov

 


Testing the Waters
The Illinois River has long been a crucial transportation route for barges transporting goods—one made navigable by the locks and dams managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Maintaining this complicated, aging system is no easy task. An estimated 95 percent of the dams managed by USACE are more than 30 years old, and more than half have reached or exceeded the 50-year service lives for which they were designed. Fixing all the dams that need repairs would cost $24 billion, according to USACE estimates. 

Last August, USACE installed Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) wicket gates at the Peoria Lock & Dam at Creve Coeur as part of a mission to investigate the use of such materials to help maintain and replace aging components. Predicted cost savings for the new wicket gates to replace their wooden counterparts are an estimated $19 million over 50 years.  Source: compositesmanufacturingmagazine.com 

 

Street Survival
Car crashes are the leading killer of American teens ages 15 to 20, with more than 5,000 teens involved in a fatal crash each year—and another 196,000 injured. Simple driving errors cause the majority of fatal accidents, and most are avoidable through education. 

For the last 14 years, Tire Rack Street Survival has offered classes to teach young drivers about proper braking, skid control and how to avoid accidents entirely—with a focus on how to control a vehicle, as opposed to simply operating one. Open to licensed and permitted drivers ages 15 to 21, local classes will take place on April 16th and 17th in the Caterpillar Parking Lot AC on IL-29 and Rench Road in Mossville from 8am to 4pm. For more information or to register, visit streetsurvival.org. 


Get Money Smart!
Saving for college? Preparing for retirement? Repairing your credit? Just wish you were better at managing your money? Sign up for one of the many financial education programs during Money Smart Week, April 23-30, 2016, coordinated by The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and hundreds of local partner organizations. Money Smart Week events are open to the public at businesses, financial institutions, schools, libraries, nonprofits and government agencies on topics including kids and money, credit building, managing student debt and retirement. For more information, visit moneysmartweek.org, or follow “Money Smart Week - Peoria” on Facebook. iBi