It's a project unlike any other at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The Department of Natural Resources and the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation District finished the installation of permeable surfaces.
Jim Nelson is one of the project's visionaries.
"There's gray infrastructure and green infrastructure. This was all gray, which means all the storm water went into concrete pipes and was flushed out into the wastewater treatment plant, and some of it was directly into a river."
Nelson says it's being funded by an Illinois EPA Green Infrastructure Grant. It was awarded in 2011. To date, the project has only cost $97,000 and uses about 1.5 acres. It was started in the fall and completed in early July.
"What we wanted to do was hold onto some of that water, filter it through layers of rock, go out into a green area where plants could absorb some of the pollutants, let some of the pollutants settle out before it went into the ponds and the lakes."
The site has two permeable surfaces which capture water and pollutants before piping it down the line and into parts of Conservation World. When rainfall comes down, it hits these previous pavers, trickles through to a collection system, goes into a rain garden, then eventually the pond.
John Wilker, with DNR, says the green and gray infrastructure work well together, but the green approach is much better for the earth.
"The benefits of this project are a more healthy environment. Cleaner lakes, ponds, streams. Benefits the plants and animals in those environments which ultimately benefit us."
If you get a chance to see the display, look for QR codes around the site. They will take you to more information about those green infrastructure efforts on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. It runs August 8 - 18.
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