Editor’s note: Art Norris is the Quad Cities Waterkeeper. He looks after 150 miles of the Mississippi River and about 100 miles of the lower Rock River.
Please make the calls and e-mails he requests. The effort just takes an instant in a lifetime, and Mother Nature needs you.
By Art Norris
Quad Cities Waterkeeper (QCW)
They just keep coming; your poor Rock River needs your support.
Quad Cities Waterkeeper was notified the Trim-Rite Foods Corporation wants to convert a horse slaughterhouse into a hog slaughterhouse on the Kishwaukee River. The Kish, as it is called, is a tributary of the Rock River, and the Kish is one of the state’s rare three Class-A rivers. The Rock River is a main tributary to the Mississippi river. The Mississippi river provides drinking water for 18 million people.
The Rock River already has many serious problems and could become problematic should this occur. Please read the report below, “Wasting Our Waters,” by Environment Illinois.
This report states Tyson Fresh Meats released 3 million pounds of toxic chemical waste into the Rock River, a Mississippi tributary, in 2007, ranking it Illinois’ largest reported polluter of toxic chemicals in 2007—and the 12th largest nationally.
This report also states that of the dozen waterways ranked highest in the nation for toxic discharges, four are in Illinois: The Ohio River ranked first in the nation with more than 31 million pounds, the Mississippi ranked third with more than 12.7 million pounds, and the Illinois and Rock Rivers ranked 11th and 12th, respectively.
The Wikipedia reference below provides good background on the Kish and some of the problems the Kish has already experienced, but it needs to be updated with information about the environmental challenges from the City of Rockford, the Winnebago County Land Resource Management Plan, Winnebago County Board Zoning decisions and this year’s largest fish kill in Illinois history as a result of an ethanol spill on that Class A river. Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kishwaukee_River.
The Wikipedia article does reference an earlier massive fish kill on the Kish, “On Wednesday April 20, 1988 the employees of Lincoln Land Hog Farm, north of Sycamore, were working on a pipe on the farm’s retention pond. The berm wall gave way allowing two million gallons of hog waste to spill into the Kishwaukee River. The result, aquatic life downstream was utterly vanquished. The Illinois Department of Conservation (IDOC) stated that 37.2 miles (59.9 km) of the river were affected and an estimated 70,000 fish were killed along with aquatic plants, insects, clams and crustaceans.”
Back to the future and Trim-Rite Foods’ request at a DeKalb Sanitary District Board meeting held May 19, 2010. This request in the minutes cited below from Mr. James Jendruczek of Trim-Rite Foods Corporation disturbs the QCW: “He asked that the District re-examine the connection fee quoted to him by Mike Zima, former District Manager and allow his company to pay a lesser fee to be followed by monitoring and fee adjustment if he was not able to meet effluent limits.” Beside letting them off cheap, just what does that mean? Are we supposed to allow them to pollute?
Yes, Mr. Jendruczek of Trim-Rite Foods Corporation described for the board the history of the company and the reasons behind their request for permitting to allow them to use the plant that formerly housed Cavel International (a horse-slaughtering plant) to perform hog slaughtering to supply meat to the company’s Carpentersville processing operation. He asked that the district re-examine the connection fee quoted to him by Mike Zima, former district manager, and allow his company to pay a lesser fee to be followed by monitoring and fee adjustment if he was not able to meet effluent limits.
Want to know more about factory farms and how they work? Get a report done by the NRDC, Natural Resources Defense Council, called “Cesspools of Shame” at: http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/cesspools/cessinx.asp.
So this brings the QCW to ask you this question. Do you want the Kishwaukee River to remain a Class A stream? How much do you think the Rock River can stand? If you are like me, you love the Rock River and all its tributaries, residents, wildlife, sunsets of plenty, and the special moments that just make you cry inside for this river.
The fish kill last year is the worst example, and many other threats exist to this river as well. The thoughts of what it once must have been, the beauty and grace take you back 100 years. I want to restore the Rock and leave her for our children and the wildlife. It can be done. Watch the video below.
We just need to stand together, like these brave fishermen did because our rivers do define us. For a little history, go to: http://www.waterkeeper.org/ht/d/sp/i/188/pid/188.
Please join your Waterkeeper in making change, don’t let them steal this river from our children.
From the July 14-20, 2010 issue