Clean Water (and what it really means for agriculture)

When was the last time you encountered water from a drinking fountain that wasn’t clear, cool, and pollutant free? Clean water is a given in our society. Our supermarkets are lands of plenty, and that certainly doesn’t stop at the rows of shiny plastic-encased water, standing there as pristine as a bubbling country spring.

Photo from Prairie Rivers Network

Except that idyllic spring might not be so clean anymore, if it has the misfortune of being downstream of an agriculture ditch, like the one at right. Though the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) has done much to prevent pollution in our major waterways, decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court have raised questions about the extent of its protections.

This is the hole that the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule hopes to fill.By extending protection automatically to interstate rivers, wetlands, territorial seas, and their adjacent wetlands and waters, it will allow the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin investigating polluted streams, wetlands, and bodies of water not explicitly protected by the CWA. The full proposed rule can be read here. Continue reading

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Events: Environmental Films in Champaign-Urbana

Fall seems to have snuck up on us while we weren’t looking, but you can feel good about staying indoors (and staying dry) with these thoughtful documentaries to be shown in Champaign-Urbana. Continue reading

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SWATeam Consultation Group Self-Nominations

In collaboration with Facilities & Services, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) established six teams consisting of faculty, staff, and students to examine broad themes within the Illinois Climate Action Plan, a five-year-plan for campus sustainability goals (you can read the 2010 version here). The teams are currently recommending concrete steps the campus should take to meet its iCAP targets, as well as developing suggested revisions to the iCAP.

Each SWATeam has two faculty members, two staff members, and two students. Each team also has an iSEE intern serving as a “clerk” for the group. Visit the SWATeams page to see an up-to-date list of members.

Each SWATeam is expected to constitute a Consultation Group for input; this group will consist of faculty, staff, students, and community members with expertise in all areas encompassed by their topic. SWATeams will select Consultation Group members, based on consultations with iSEE staff and/or self-nominations from prospective participants, and they will consult with members of the Consultation Group in formal meetings and/or informally as they deem appropriate.

Topics are as follows:

  • Transportation

Please nominate yourself for a Consultation Group using the linked form. The SWATeam Chairs will be in touch with the nominees who are invited to serve.

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Win $1,000 for a farm to school project in your community

Everyone who fills out a membership form and/or a “Share Form” on the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) website during October (National Farm to School Month) will be entered to win a drawing for $1,000 to spend on a farm to school/preschool project in their community! Five additional drawing winners will also be eligible to apply for a free Project Learning Garden™ lesson kit from Captain Planet Foundation that is valued at $1,000; however, winners must have an existing elementary school garden to qualify.  Continue reading

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NCR SARE Grants: Open Calls For Proposals

SARE_NorthCentral_RGBThe deadlines to apply for NCR-SARE Grants are coming up! Details for all current grants below:

The 2015 Research and Education Grant Program Text | PDF
DEADLINE: October 23, 2014

Individual grants range from $10,000 to $200,000. NCR-SARE expects to fund about seven to ten projects in the twelve-state North Central Region. Continue reading

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ISTC Seminar: ‘Trends in Waste and Resource Management’

From noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, you can hear Anita Kedia, Senior Business Development Manager at Waste Management Sustainabilty Services, discuss “why and how companies are making the shift away from traditional, disposable models toward a more sustainable, circular economy. In a world of finite resources and growing human populations, dramatic changes in the ways we produce and consume goods and services will become more and more imperative. Historical production models favored linear patterns of resource extraction, consumption and disposal, with ecological, climatological and human health consequences as a result.”

The webinar will be broadcast live and also archived at for later viewing. View the webinar live by registering at:

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Reminder: iSEE Congress 2014 opens this evening!

Critically acclaimed DotEarth blogger Andrew Revkin returns today to the University of Illinois campus, this time as a guest of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment to deliver the opening keynote address for iSEE Congress 2014.

“Feeding 9 Billion: A Path to Sustainable Agriculture” opens at 5 this evening in the new home for the Institute, 1101 W. Peabody, Urbana. A few seats remain for walk-ins to hear Revkin, a longtime New York Times reporter.

Some seats also remain open when the Congress continues all day Wednesday and Thursday at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on campus. For the complete schedule, click here. For a list of all of the world scholars assembled for this event, click here.

We hope you’ll join the conversation on how to produce more food with a smaller environmental footprint as the world population continues to increase.

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Job Opportunities: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Three possible jobs with the Xerces society, including a position in integrated pest management.

Director of Finance and Operations

The Xerces Society is seeking an inspired leader to manage day-to-day operations while providing strategic planning in areas of finance, human resources and organizational growth in alignment with the organization’s mission. If you have a history of demonstrated success in a non-profit environment, appreciate an inclusive and collaborate approach to leadership, and have a talent for juggling a variety of priorities in a growing organization, this may be an ideal fit for you. Continue reading

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Bioenergy Feedstock Symposium 2014

On September 24, researchers from around the country will be gathering for the tenth annual Bioenergy Feedstock Symposium, held at our very own University of Illinois (the I-Hotel, to be precise). This year’s theme is “The Future of Feedstocks” and the discussion will focus on what can and will be done regarding plant-based energy sources, from the lab, to the field, to the legislative chamber. Speakers include environment lawyer Ingrid G. Anderson, researchers such as Dr. Jeff Klingenberg (Repreve Renewables, LLC) and Dr. Erik Sacks (UIUC), and policy analyst Dr. Lauren Quinn (UIUC). The following day, the annual Energy Farm Field Day will be held out at the Energy Farm on Race Street. This event is free to attend.

Registration is still open here. The cost of attendance is $40, which includes breakfast, lunch, and a light snack. For more information about this event, please contact

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NGRREC Faculty Fellow Jim Best Presents Series on the Future of Big Rivers

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠) Faculty Fellow Jim Best has organized an upcoming colloquium series entitled “The Future of Big Rivers: Form, Flux, Ecology and Management.” Each presentation in the series will take place at 5 p.m. in the Digital Computer Lab room 1320 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Wednesday, Oct. 8, Professor Phil Ashworth of the University of Brighton, UK, will present “Why are the World’s Big Rivers so Different?”

Tuesday, Nov. 11, Professor James Syvitski of the University of Colorado will present “New Possibilities in Monitoring and Modeling Hydrology and Sediment Transport for Global River Networks.”

Thursday, Jan. 29, Professor Steven Goodbred, Jr., will present “Constructing the Ganges-Brahmaputra Megadelta: From Process to Morphology to Stratigraphy.”

Friday, March 13, Professor Matt Kondolf of the University of California Berkeley will present “The Mekong: Threats to a Unique Human-Ecosystem.”

Thursday, April 30, Professor Andrew Nicholas of the University of Exeter, UK, will present “Computer Simulation of Large River Evolution.”

For more information, email Best at

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