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Recent survey looks at Nippersink watershed conservation efforts

Published: Saturday, June 21, 2014 12:13 a.m. CDT

WONDER LAKE – Some of the efforts made by the Nippersink Watershed Association to keep up the water quality in the area appear to be working, according to a study released this week.

The Nippersink Watershed Association – a collection of residents, other local stakeholders and researchers – conducted a survey last year aimed at assessing the knowledge, opinions and actions of residents in four of the 14 subsets of the watershed using funds from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The creek’s watershed spans 94,800 acres in northeastern Illinois plus additional acreage in southern Wisconsin, an area that has experienced rapid changes as farmlands turned into residential subdivisions.

The water quality in Nippersink Creek and its tributaries is relatively high compared to other impaired streams.

The Nippersink Watershed Association – in cooperation with Wonder Lake Master Property Owners Association and Illinois State University – hopes to maintain that quality and promote environmentally friendly practices, including maintaining septic systems and using phosphorus-free fertilizer.

The association held or participated in three events to provide information about septic maintenance in the first half of 2013, but the results from these activities were “less than encouraging,” the study said. Snow and sleet kept turnout low, and some of those that did turn out expressed concerns that their participation would lead to increased regulations on what they can and can’t do on their property.

The “Lawns for Nippersink” campaign appeared to be more successful.

As part of the campaign, information promoting the use of phosphorus-free fertilizer was placed in 11 local retailers, though the association came across problems getting the materials into larger big-box stores.

Those stores were then listed on the Nippersink Watershed Association’s website.

The campaign also included delivering information door-to-door through door-hang tags and conversations with volunteers.

Use of the environmentally friendly practices identified in the study has grown over the past three years, though it is difficult to connect the changes solely to the campaign, the study concluded.

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