Ernest De Witt Walker.

A story of a lake online

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Circular b44 : University ot Illinois : Uollege ot Agriculture
Extension Service in Agriculture and Home Economics


This circular is based on a critical study by Carl B. Brown, J. B. Stall, and E. E. DeTurk, of
the conditions in Lake Decatur and the surrounding watcrshtd (sec The Causes and Effects of
Sedimentation in Lake Decatur, Bulletin 37, State of Illinois, Departiiunt of Reeistration and
Education, State Water Sur\'ey Division i .

The stor>- has been told here by E. D. WALKER, Extension Soil Conservationist and Associate
Professor in Agronomy Extension, College of Agriculture, University of Illinois. The Decatur
Herald-Review, the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, and the Bloomington Daily Pantagraph
were kind enough to provide many of the illustrations. I'cu si\iral others, credit is due to
W. F. Purnell, Assistant Extension Soil Conservationist.

Coopfrativc Extension Work in Agricuhurr and Home Economics: L'nivcrsily of Illinois,

CoUciic of Agricullurc. and ihc United Stales Department of .Agriculture cooperating.

H. P. Ri.iK. Dirrclm. Acts approved bv Congress May 8 and June 3(1, 1914.



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are involved in this sUjry of a small lake in
central Illinois. It concerns first the city
people who built the lake and live near it,
and the farmers whose lands drain down
into the lake. But it really is of vital im-
portance to all the people of this country

— everyone, without exception.

The lessons in this story are crystal clear.
Either we as a nation must find a way to
hold our fertile soil where it is, or some day
we shall be hungry as older nations of this
world are now hungry.

Many of our farmers won't have to wait
until they are through with their land to
see that it has literally washed out from
under their plo\\'s. It is being washed away
now — how fast is indicated by the story
of this lake. We may be enjoying prosper-
ity because of improved varieties of crops

— hybrid corn, for example — but this
prosperity cannot last unless the soil lasts.

This story, we trust, will convince more
farmers to take the steps needed to save
their soils, and v\ill stir others to take an
interest in the national problem of con-
serving our soils — our greatest natural
resource, and one we cannot replace.



Some years ago the citizens of Decatur, Illinois, faced the problem of getting more
water. The population was growing, and so were the man\- processing and manufac-
turing plants which were imi)()rtant to the
life and prosperity of the city. 70.

Past the edge of the city Hows a ri\er
which seemed to hold an answer to the
|)roblem. It was the Sangamon, a stream
draining nearly 600,000 acres of the black
prairie farm lands abo\-e Decatur. The '"■
people of the city looked at the am|)le flow
of the Sangamon, and decided to do what m,
seemed easy and logical slorc the water
and use it.

Decaliir's popul.ition, as shown hy the chart, will rlimh
to an csliniaird t).i,30fl bv I'.'SO.


The dam was completed in 1922 — more than 25 years
ago — at a cost of 2 million dollars. The lake which it
formed had an area of 2,800 acres, and extended about
8 miles upstream from the city limits. It promised to sup-
ply plenty of water for people and industry indefinitely.


Not only has tho lake meant a fine water
supply for the city, but it has a.l'o pio\idi'd
a great open area where thousands of
people from Decatur and the surrounding
country could boat, fish, swim, and enjoy
other kinds of healthful, joyous recreation.
Homes ha\'e been built arountl the ed^e of
the lake.

It seems like a pretty i)ieture a bt-auti-
ful lake and a prosperou.j city surrounded
b\ some of the most fertile farm land in

But that isn't the whole picture, for dis-
turbing problems ha\e developed since the
ake was formed.

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Online LibraryErnest De Witt WalkerA story of a lake → online text (page 1 of 1)