Cat® Equipment Helps Improve the Water Quality of the Illinois River

Ducks Unlimited and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are near completion on a project in Woodford County, Illinois, with the help of Cat® excavators, dozers, scrapers, backhoe loaders and skid steer loaders that will improve the water quality in the Illinois River, and ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico.

The wetland restoration involves work to construct berms to impound water, to plug drainage tile or to install water control structures – which is where Cat equipment comes in.

Local contractors are working to finish construction of an 83-acre wetland restoration project adjacent to the Woodford County State Fish and Wildlife area.  The project, designed by Ducks Unlimited biologists and engineers, will serve dual purposes—provide habitat for migrating waterfowl, and improve water quality in the Illinois River by trapping excess nutrients and sediment.

As part of the project, a portion of the water in Richland Creek will be diverted through the newly restored wetland site.  An excavated area in the wetland will capture and store sediment, while aquatic plants growing in the wetland will help remove excess nitrogen from the creek water before it flows into the Illinois River. The wetland is designed to allow floodwater from the river to enter the wetland pool area during flood events. This water is temporarily stored, which helps to reduce downstream flooding and allows for filtering of nutrients. It's a win-win. The purpose of the program is to help address concerns about excess nutrients in the Gulf of Mexico by reducing nitrogen run-off from croplands in the Mississippi River Basin.

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