ParkTalk Podcast S17 Episode 02: What Makes a River Healthy?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Jennifer Hammer, director of watershed programs and ecological restoration for The Conservation Foundation, explains regional efforts to improve water quality and habitat in the DuPage River, mentioning both success stories and challenges.
This episode is part of Series 17: Protecting Our River
For a list of ParkTalk episodes and series visit

Confluence of the East and West Branches of the DuPage River at Knoch Knolls Park

Quote from the episode: "Having a healthy riparian area is really important to having a good aquatic bug community. Those aquatic insects (like dragonflies) feed fish and a lot of them provide other services in the water, breaking down organic material and doing all kinds of interesting things under the water." - Jennifer Hammer

Above: an educational sign explaining the earlier wetland restoration project at Pioneer Park along the West Branch DuPage River

How you can help improve water quality and habitat in the DuPage River:

1. Stormwater runoff is one of the biggest threats to the health of our rivers. Here are some ways that homeowners and businesses can help. More information can be found at

o Infiltrate stormwater on your property wherever possible, which filters pollutants out of the water and lets water soak into the ground rather than pouring into storm drains. You can do this by:

o Planting a rain garden around the down spout, with native plants that have deep roots.
o Install a rain barrel to capture rainwater for later use.
o Installing permeable pavers in the driveway or parking lot. The water can gradually soak into the ground in the spaces between the pavers, rather than running off into the street.

o Keep storm drains free of debris like leaves and grass clippings.
o Use as little fertilizer and herbicide as possible and follow the directions on the label.
o Always pick up your pet's waste and dispose of it properly, every time, and everywhere.
o When mowing, think about using a mulching mower and leave grass clippings on the lawn as a natural fertilizer.
o You can use a mulching mower for fall leaves as well. Or rake them into your garden beds as mulch, using those nutrients right on your property.
o Minimize the use of salt in winter.

2. Volunteer! During the month of May, individuals can help clean up the DuPage River and be part of the annual DuPage River Sweep. Choose an area where you will pick up litter and then communicate your results. Sign up and learn more here.

3. Learn more about the local watershed groups:

DuPage River Watershed
DuPage River/Salt Creek Workgroup