On October 17, 2000, a vehicle accident involving a Swift Transportation, Inc. box van resulted in the release of an undisclosed amount of diesel fuel, laundry detergent, non-chlorine bleach, and fabric softener from the fuel tank and cargo, respectively, into Copper Slough and the Kaskaskia River near Champaign, Illinois. The diesel fuel was captured within a mile of the release and the remaining contaminant traveled a distance of 15.9 miles causing significant injury to Illinois' natural resources. Habitats impacted by the release included surface water, streambed and shoreline. Natural resources in the area include fish, aquatic vegetation, macroinvertebrates, mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. A fish kill investigation conducted by IDNR Fisheries reported an estimated loss of 344,800 fish.
An NRDA was conducted by the Trustees in order to develop a claim. The matter was settled in October 2009. Trustees are working cooperatively with the Fountain Head Drainage District, University of Illinois, adjacent Homeowner's Groups, the City of Champaign, and the Champaign County Park District to develop a restoration plan involving the construction of in-stream conservation measures.
A proposed stream reach of ~1,000 feet has been evaluated and deemed suitable for riffle and pool structures. The pools will create deep water habitat for aquatic life, while the riffles will increase dissolved oxygen content, which improves water quality. The pool and riffle structures will also reduce sedimentation and the level of pollutants in stormwater runoff, which increases stream diversity and aesthetics. Monitoring efforts such as fish, aquatic insect, and habitat surveys are taking place to gather pre and eventually post-restoration data to determine overall project success.
A restoration plan with opportunity for public review and comment will be available in the future.