McLean County Projects Highlighted

The following projects were paid for and supported by the various landowner programs available in McLean County. To find out more details on how you can enroll your land, please contact our office.

Constructed Wetlands

The wetlands for this project are known as nitrate removal wetlands and are specifically located and designed to intercept and treat agricultural drainage water. These wetlands have a strong record of success both in Illinois and Iowa in reducing nitrogen levels by 40-90%. Typically they are small wetlands (2-5 acre pool size), and are made by digging down a few feet to drain tile. These Wetlands are designed NOT to interfere with cropland drainage.

Shoreline Protection-Evergreen Lake & Lake Bloomington

McLean County SWCD, the City of Bloomington, and a grant from EPA were responsible for the installation of 1,100 feet of shoreline protection, and 100 feet of fish lunkers at Comlara Park, Evergreen Lake. The project required 1,250 ton of RR4 rock to accomplish the job. The shoreline’s obvious erosion issues were becoming a hazard for the Comlara beach area, but now after completion serves as excellent habitat for aquatics and a stable shoreline for the park. Additional shoreline projects continue to take place and are being installed currently.

Two Stage Ditch Project

With Bloomington’s Stormwater funding, the city matched federal funding with the IDR’s State Wildlife Grant for habitat enhancement and NRCS’s Conservation Innovation Grant  for nutrient management in agricultural runoff.  The US Geological Survey will monitor discharge, sediment loadings and nutrient loading of large floods to measure nutrient reductions and sedimentation rates within the Phase 3 restoration. IDNR stream fishery staff will monitor stream fishery populations as the two stage ditch evolves during flooding and the maturing prairie vegetation. Bloomington Park staff and their consultants will determine the maturity of the prairie and wetland plant community. To learn more about the two stage ditch, Click Here!

Reducing Nitrogen Loss and Improving Water Quality

This project’s goal was to reduce nitrogen loss, improve water quality and possibly increase operational efficiency through shifting from fall fertilizer application to spring application or split application. This two-year spring fertilizer application pilot was funded by an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency 319 grant. Participating producers did not apply nutrients in the fall and instead relied on custom spring application for the 2017 and 2018 growing seasons. McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District organized summer field days in Arrowsmith to share preliminary results of the pilot. In addition, Trevor Sample (Illinois EPA) provided a helpful overview of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS). Shifting to spring fertilizer application or split application could play an important role in achieving the Illinois NLRS nutrient reduction goals. For more information, please contact the McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Mackinaw Drinking Watershed Project

One of the most essential things in life is a clean water supply. The Mackinaw Drinking Watersheds Project was focused on reducing nitrogen levels in the City of Bloomington’s water supply. This was is a voluntary, incentive based program to construct small wetlands in strategic locations to intercept and treat tile-drained runoff from farmlands upstream from drinking water reservoirs and the Mackinaw River; thus, providing benefits to the local community’s drinking water, the Mackinaw River, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. In the City’s comprehensive watershed management plan, wetland placement in headwater areas was identified among the most cost-effective methods to reduce excess nitrates in the streams that flow into Lake Bloomington. High levels of nitrates in the water supply are a public health issue and contribute to poor tasting water. Financial support for construction of these wetlands and land rental came through enrollment in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program’s Farmable Wetland Program called CP39. Landowner’s had the ability to choose to enroll this land in a voluntary permanent CREP easement or a 15-year or 35-year supplemental CREP contract. These wetlands have a strong record of success both in Illinois and Iowa agricultural watersheds, reducing nitrogen levels by 40-90%. Typically, they are small wetlands (2-5 acre pool size), and are made by digging down a few feet to drain tile. These wetlands are designed NOT to interfere with cropland drainage.

Streambank Stabilization Restoration Program (SSRP)

SSRP will provide assistance to Illinois landowners to stabilize or restore severely eroding streambanks that qualify. SSRP is a cost-share program that has many possible control methods. Willow Posts, Bendway Wiers, Stream Barbs, Pool and Riffle and Stone Toe Protection are examples of SSRP methods. Methods and design are determined and designed by our Regional Streambank Specialist. The following projects have been installed throughout McLean County.