The Public Square

Jean Flemma of the Prairie Rivers Network on Being River Smart


Jean Flemma is the Executive Director of the Prairie Rivers Network, a statewide conservation organization dedicated to protecting the rivers and streams of Illinois for people, fish, and wildlife.

Did you know? You shouldn't always go with the flow!

Did you know? Water from a rain shower that flows down the storm drain carrying leaves, trash, motor oil, and other pollution does not go to a treatment plant. Instead, it gets dumped directly into our local rivers where it can harm fish, wildlife, water quality, and even people.

Did you know? Rivers and streams supply over 60% of all drinking water in America. In Champaign County and around Illinois, rivers are home to bluegill and smallmouth bass, herons and cardinals, river otters and muskrats, and so many other creatures. They are the places where we canoe, hike, bird watch, picnic, and fish. From the Salt Fork, to the Sangamon, they make our communities better places to live.

Did you know? While industrial and municipal discharges contribute to pollution in our rivers, most comes from the stormwater that runs off parking lots, driveways, streets, and even farm fields, picking up trash, yard and pet waste, sediment, fertilizers, and other pollutants along the way.

Did you know? Each of us can take simple steps in our every days lives that will reduce this pollution, and keep our rivers, and the people, fish, and wildlife that depend on them, healthy. Here are just a few examples of how you can be RiverSmart. Fix car leaks right away, and dispose of used motor oil and anti-freeze safely. Rake your leaves and grass clippings and compost them or bag them for removal. Don't let any of these items end up in the street where they can go with the flow and down the drain. Or, join the Prairie Rivers' storm drain patrol and tell others about the importance of keeping pollution out of the flow.

Your neighborhood association, your scout troop, or any other group can stencil your storm drains with the important message-- "DUMP NO WASTE - DRAINS TO RIVERS". By participating in the storm drain patrol, you can educate others about keeping pollution out of the flow and out of our rivers. For more RiverSmart tips, visit our website at Or if you want to join the storm drain patrol and borrow our stenciling kits free of charge, call us at 344-2371. Working together, we can prevent pollution from going with the flow, and keep our rivers clean.