DuPage Forest District joins fight against pollutants
Sun Staff December 18, 2012 5:40PM
Updated: January 20, 2013 6:27AM
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has joined other members of the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup to enhance the quality of local waterways.
The workgroup is a voluntary alliance of government organizations, conservation groups and private companies working to enhance water quality.
The pollutants causing concern are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These pollutants are present on parking lots and asphalt surfaces treated with refined coal-tar sealants, the most commonly available types of sealants, and are often washed in to waterways during a rainfall.
Water-quality tests of Salt Creek and the upper DuPage River have detected the hydrocarbons at concentrations that are not considered a danger to humans but are potentially harmful to wildlife. Under the approved memorandum of understanding, workgroup members commit to use alternative products that do not emit the hydrocarbons.
“All of the Chicagoland region’s stormwater eventually makes its way to rivers and streams, and pollutants become buried in sediment layers where they have long-term negative impacts on wildlife and the environment,” says John “Ole” Oldenburg, the district’s director of the Office of Natural Resources.
Safer sealants are comparable in cost to coal-tar based products, so member organizations don’t anticipate significant cost increases associated with the new agreement.
“We’re also hoping that by creating greater demand for the safer products at a wholesale level, they’ll become more widely available to individual consumers,” adds Oldenburg.