Apple-Plum Watershed

Water Resource Management in Northwest Illinois, Northeast Iowa, Southwest Wisconsin

The League of Women Voters of Jo Daviess County’s design proposal for continuous monitoring on the Galena River has been awarded a $10,000 prize. The proposal was submitted in response to a “Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge” posted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in partnership with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge is a technology-accelerating water quality challenge to demonstrate how nutrient sensors can be used by states and local communities to help manage nutrient pollution.

Nutrient pollution, one of our most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems, is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in water. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. This growth causes major environmental damage as well as serious health problems in people and animals.

The League of Women Voters’ structure and approach allow members to play an instrumental role in efforts to address complex issues. Organized at the local, state, regional, and national levels, League efforts and resources can be scaled up and down as appropriate. With a formal process for studying issues important to voters and coming to consensus before taking action, the League has become widely respected for its non-partisan, fact-based, educational approach. The League of Women Voters of Jo Daviess County is creating a model that showcases how “The League Way” is working with residents in Jo Daviess County on the locally important and globally critical topic of water resource management.

The local chapter of the League in Jo Daviess County, Illinois has been actively seeking water quality data to increase our local knowledge. The ultimate goal is to achieve science-based stewardship of the water resources in our area. Working with scientists from the Illinois State Geological and Water Surveys, a project was designed for deploying two low-cost sensors, one each at the top and bottom of the Lower Galena River subwatershed to gather continuous data on nitrate levels. The technical review panel for the Sensor Challenge determined that the League’s submission could help better inform decision-making for nutrient reduction in our nation’s waterways. The Challenge judges explained that the prize money could be used for anything at all – including, perhaps a trip to Hawaii, but the League has decided, instead, to dedicate the $10,000 to ongoing efforts to effectively manage water resources in Jo Daviess County.