Welcome to iBi’s first-ever “water issue,” dedicated to our region’s most precious resource. Even as we began planning this issue last year, current events were underscoring its tremendous importance. From the tragedy in Flint, Michigan to the ongoing drought in California, dramatic issues surrounding this seemingly simple topic continue to rear their head.
Water was the original economic driver—the reason our region was settled in the first place—and it’s something we take for granted every day. Just turn on the tap and the water will flow… but consider the extensive journey it takes to get to your drinking glass. We appreciate our local water service team for being there, day and night—even in sub-zero temperatures—to make sure we have water when and where we need it.
For centuries, the Illinois River has been a platform for transportation and the shipping of goods, as well as a center of recreational activities. This unique asset is our critical differentiator, distinguishing us from other regions, so it makes sense to explore new ways to leverage it. “For far too long, we’ve failed to use the river for what it could be: a source of strength for our quality of life and economy,” writes Shae Birkey of the Greater Peoria EDC’s Water Resources Team. “Why not connect with it?” We are pleased to see new ideas and partnerships emerging from the Water Resources Team, and look forward to what’s in store in the future.
You’ve surely heard the term combined sewer overflow by now. We’ve covered the topic a time or two, but today, Peoria is on the cusp of dedicating the resources necessary to fix this long-lingering problem. In this issue, Michael Rogers, director of Peoria Public Works, beckons to show you “The Inspiring Side of Infrastructure”: how the city’s plan to combat CSOs can address other concerns as well—a true win-win.
We also tell the story of a family of local entrepreneurs who leveraged their building expertise and a passion for lakefront properties to become caretakers of an 828-acre property with 52 lakes, 310 lakefront campsites and 162 cabin sites (and counting). In the process of building the recreational paradise known as Giant Goose Ranch, the Hermans also became reality-TV stars.
For 23 years, the Sun Foundation has elevated the topic of clean water through its annual Clean Water Celebration, held in Peoria each April. We thank them for reminding us not to take this priceless natural resource for granted—its importance will only increase with time. iBi