Since 2009, Robert Colombo and his biological sciences students at EIU have been playing a role in the restoration of Kickapoo Creek, a nine-mile stream just a few miles southwest of Charleston.
Kickapoo Creek suffered massive damage on June 22, 2001, when a pump malfunction on the property of Vesuvius USA Corporation's Charleston facility resulted in the unpermitted release of approximately 8,000 gallons of furfural. The furfural ended up in Kickapoo Creek, and was most likely the cause of death for over a quarter-million fish and numerous other macroinvertebrate life in the body of water.
Since then, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the United States Geological Services (USGS), and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) program have engaged in efforts to restore the fish and macroinvertebrate life in Kickapoo Creek, and Dr. Colombo's students have found a way to involved. Twice a year, students take samples from the stream to measure the effects of the restoration efforts.
"It's been a really good opportunity to train students," said Colombo. "Two graduate students have done their thesis on this area. It has been a really good project for us to do."