Island in Lower Peoria Lake nearing completion

By WEEK Producer

July 31, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 9:51 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- What used to be water is now dry land. Well, almost dry.

The island taking shape just north of the McCluggage Bridge is 400,000 cubic feet of mostly mud right now.

Only about 10-percent of the project remains.

"Something like two to four months of actual dredging work and then some additional rock placement and then we should be complete out here," said Anthony Heddleston of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who was instrumental in designing the plans for the island.

Heddleston estimates work will wrap up late this year or early next.

The island's purpose is habitat restoration, primarily creating warmer waters in Lower Peoria Lake, away from the Illinois River channel, for fish to live during the cold months of the winter.

"Over the years Peoria Lake has experienced sedimentation," explained Heddleston. "We're working to dredge the backwater areas and provide a habitat for fish to stay in over the winter that's not attached to the barge channel."

There are already trees and other vegetation establishing itself on the island. There have also been signs of wildlife, like turtles and snakes and beaver.

"Its going to turn green very quickly," said island project manager Hank DeHaan. "We're also looking for aquatic vegetation response in the backwater, which is the other major benefit of this island, and the wildlife utilizing the island as well."

On Wednesday more dirt was being imported from the shore by barge.

The $9-million dollar project probably isn't the last of its kind along the Illinois River. Two more islands are in the works just to the south, one of which will be three-quarters of a mile long.