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updated: 12/29/2010 6:46 PM

Watershed planning meeting set for Jan. 11

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McHenry County needs a clean, adequate supply of groundwater for drinking, business and industry, farming, and other water supply needs. On Jan. 11, community members in southeastern McHenry County will have an opportunity to learn more about current local and regional efforts to protect groundwater resources and discuss ways to address protections for groundwater within two new watershed planning initiatives.

The Silver Creek / Sleepy Hollow Creek Watershed Planning Meeting will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11 at Nunda Township Meeting Hall, 3510 Bay Road, Crystal Lake. To RSVP, e-mail to watershedinfo@mcdefenders.net or call (815) 338-0393 by Friday, Jan. 7.

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Presentations will be made by Cassandra McKinney, Water Resource Manager for McHenry County and Timothy T. Loftus, Ph.D., Water Resources/Project Director of Northeast Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

These presentations are part of new planning efforts to develop watershed plans for the Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watershed planning areas. A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a common receiving body or outlet such as a stream.

"Watershed planning" is a community supported approach to protecting and improving water quality in lakes and streams, restoring healthy aquatic habitat, addressing groundwater protections, and other water resource-related concerns. These new planning initiatives are providing opportunities for local community members to work together and identify priority goals and projects to maintain and improve watershed health.

The Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds are home to significant resources, including dedicated Illinois Nature Preserves, rare wetlands, rich farmland, dozens of parks and preserves, and several lakes enjoyed by community members as a source of recreation. Communities within the watersheds include Oakwood Hills, Prairie Grove, and portions of Bull Valley, Cary, Crystal Lake, McHenry, and nearby areas of unincorporated McHenry County. The planning areas lie within Nunda Township and Algonquin Township.

In January, local residents, community leaders and representatives of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and many others will discuss ways to address protections for groundwater resources within the Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watershed plans.

"Protecting groundwater resources has been identified by planning participants as an important goal of these watershed planning efforts." said EDMC Watershed Coordinator Lynn Rotunno.

Planning meetings are being coordinated by The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and other participating organizations. Community members who live or work in these watersheds are invited to attend and participate in this unique planning opportunity. Additional day and evening meetings will be held in the watersheds through December. All meetings are open to the public.

The Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds drain to the Fox River, an important source of drinking water, community recreation, and wildlife habitat. Working to protect the Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds will support local communities and help restore Fox River water quality and wildlife habitat.

For information, visit foxriverecosystem.org/planning.htm. You also can contact the watershed coordinator, Lynn Rotunno, at watershedinfo@mcdefenders.net or call the EDMC office at (815) 338-0393.

These planning projects are funded by Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act by way of a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Water, to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Watershed planning oversight is the responsibility of CMAP. Planning Partners include the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, Fox River Ecosystem Partnership, and the Fox River Study Group.

The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is a citizen-based, nonprofit organization, dedicated to the preservation and improvement of our natural environment. For information about programs and membership, visit mcdef.org or e-mail to mcdef.outreach@gmail.com.

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