Illinois American Water Company announced recently that the application process is now open for its 2013 Environmental Grant Program to support innovative, community-based environmental projects that improve, restore or protect the watersheds, surface water and/or groundwater supplies through partnerships, according to a Illinois American press release.

The company will award grants of up to $10,000. The program is designed to support diverse types of activities, such as watershed cleanups, reforestation efforts, biodiversity projects, stream-side buffer restoration projects, wellhead protection initiatives and hazardous waste collection efforts, the release said.

Proposed projects must be located in an Illinois American Water service area and:

• Address a source water or watershed protection need in the community.

• Be completed between May 1 and November 29.

• Be a new or innovative program for the community, or serve as a significant expansion to an existing program.

• Be carried out by a formal or informal partnership between two or more organizations.

• Provide evidence of sustainability — continued existence after the Illinois American Water grant monies are utilized.

In 2012, Illinois American Water awarded six grants totaling over $25,000. A panel of judges selected the winners from over 20 grant applications and awarded grants as follows:

• Living Lands and Waters received its requested $1,500 grant in full for the Great Mississippi River Clean Up. Mississippi River clean up efforts took place on Sept. 15, 2012, from the Grafton boat launch. The goal of the project was to engage volunteers to help with the removal of approximately four tons of debris from the river.

• The Morton Arboretum located in the Chicago Metro District received a $6,075 grant for the Wetland Restoration Stewardship Program which engaged and educated audiences through volunteer workdays. Workday activities included native plantings, removal of invasive plants, trash removal and educational programs.

• The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center received a $3,071 grant for Mississippi River Workshops which provided educators with activities, curriculum guide and tools for participating in The Mississippi River XChange (MRX) program. MRX is a platform for high school students along the Mississippi River to share information about their watershed and source water protection.

• The city of Waterloo received its requested $4,120 grant in full for the restoration of a historic freshwater spring located at the site of the Monroe County History Museum. This site is also home to the first Illinois settlement. The project included debris removal, erosion prevention and the installation of a walking bridge.

• The city of Peoria received a $6,000 grant for the Peoria Rain Garden and Native Landscaping Program which incorporated a pilot rain garden, native seeds and print materials to educate residents about the importance of rain gardens for storm water management.

• Bradley University in Peoria received a $5,000 grant for Phase 2 of the River Action League which engages community volunteers to collect Illinois River samples for research and watershed improvement. The project incorporated additional testing protocols, data publication and a partnership with the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Grant information and application forms can be found online at Applications must be postmarked by March 11and mailed to Karen Cotton at Illinois American Water, 7500 N. Harker Drive, Peoria, IL 61615 or e-mailed to