Research shows that pharmaceuticals impact water quality—the water we drink, bathe in, and use for recreation. Using the toilet or trash to dispose of medicine can put people, animals, and the environment at risk. To address this issue, in 2012 Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant partnered with law enforcement agencies and community groups to start 17 permanent medicine collection programs. IISG also assisted with single day collection events in six communities and helped promote the fall DEA collection program in 11 communities. IISG helped organize and promote these programs, wrote press releases, provided brochures, and purchased locked medicine collection boxes. As a result of these efforts, over 12,000 pounds of pills were properly disposed of through 17 permanent collection programs and six single-day events. The medicine was destroyed using high-heat incineration, reducing the potential for diversion or accidental poisonings and keeping the chemicals from polluting local water.
In light of climate change predictions that indicate bigger storms and more flooding, managing urban stormwater will become increasingly critical in northeastern Illinois and throughout the state. But planning and implementing effective, forward-looking infrastructure can help protect communities and allow them to adapt to changing weather conditions. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant was funded by Illinois EPA to study the standards and costs of green infrastructure as a possible replacement or supplement to conventional urban stormwater infrastructure. The study found that, on average, green infrastructure practices are just as effective as conventional stormwater infrastructure, and are less expensive. In 2012, the Illinois General Assembly established a $5 million discretionary fund to support green infrastructure projects in communities around the state, a strong start to helping these areas plan and prepare for potential weather extremes.