Atrazine and Phosphorus
1:16 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

The Condition of Spring Lake and Its Watershed

A water resource specialist believes a great deal has been done to clean up the Spring Lake watershed in western Illinois.

“There’s been so much positive work done in the watershed. Back in the ‘80s they did a ton of conservation work,” said Jeff Boeckler of Northwater Consulting in Springfield.

Spring Lake
Spring Lake
Credit Rich Egger

“Things are improving. It’s a lot better than it used to be.”

Spring Lake is the drinking water source for Macomb.

The Illinois EPA has reported the lake contains higher levels of atrazine and phosphorus than it allows for drinking water sources, but Boeckler said there is no cause for alarm because the state’s standards are so stringent.

“It’s really not all that bad. We think there is a lot of phosphorus that’s just still in the lake historically, I guess what I would call legacy phosphorus that just kind of gets churned up and shows up (in the state’s tests),” said Boeckler.

He said few watersheds throughout Illinois are able to meet the state’s standards for public drinking water supplies.

Atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in the United States.  Phosphorus is commonly found in fertilizers used on farm fields. 

Jeff Boeckler
Jeff Boeckler
Credit Northwater Consulting

“We’ve implemented soil and nutrient-saving practices on crop ground adjacent to the lake,” said Boeckler, who added other conservation practices are also being implemented, often with assistance from farmers.  He pointed out it costs them money when phosphorus runs off their fields instead of fertilizing them.

Boeckler will be one of the featured speakers during a program about Spring Lake and its watershed.  The Lamoine River Ecosystem Partnership is hosting the program, which begins at 7:00 pm on Thursday night, March 13, in the Macomb City Hall Community Room.