Sangchris Lake - RLF Pawnee Properties
In early October 2014, an unpermitted amount of untreated waste water from an Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) sediment pond was discharged into the west arm of Sangchris Lake. IDNR and IEPA investigators found that this release was caused by heavy rain and improper management of the treatment pond. This event affected an ~84-acre area, directly resulting in the deaths of an estimated 6,800 fish. Other aquatic resources were impacted by the sudden change in pH which occurred as a result of this acidic wastewater entering the lake. The reduction in ecosystem function may have a wide reaching effect on the entire aquatic system.
In 2016, the IDNR, represented by the Illinois Attorney General, reached a settlement with RLF Pawnee Properties, the current owner of the wastewater treatment facility. Settlement monies will fund restoration projects in Sangchris Lake.
Sangchris Lake, which totals 3,022 acres, is a balanced and diverse ecosystem. It was designated as a State Fish Preserve in 1972, and supports a wide variety of sport fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel and flathead catfish, and many other non-sport fish species. The lake hosts around 70 fishing tournaments a year, and the entire Sangchris Lake State Park sees about 700,000 visitors each year.
Due to the importance of Sangchris Lake as both a high quality aquatic habitat and as a recreational facility, restoration action will address both ecological and recreational services of the Lake. Projects will focus on the re-establishment of native aquatic vegetation and placement of fish habitat/attractor structures throughout the lake. Aquatic vegetation provides food and habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms, improves water quality, stabilizes shorelines, and repels invasive species through increased biodiversity. Fish habitat/attractor structures increase catch rates for anglers and also provide habitat for fish, algae, and plankton. They can improve the quantity and quality of game and nongame fish by providing spawning habitat and a place for young fish to seek shade and refuge.