DECATUR — A group of Chinese scientists toured Lake Decatur's dredging project and the Corley Landfill bioenergy crop site on Wednesday.

The group of researchers are guests of the University of Illinois' Prairie Research Institute, which studies agricultural, ground and water conservation in the region.

Keith Alexander, the city of Decatur's water production manager, said the chance for researchers to see the project up close was big.

"You get an idea of the size and scope of the project — the basin that we created to put the sediment material into is literally a half-mile wide," Alexander said.

The $91 million dredging project has removed enough sediment that the lake is as much as 6 feet deeper in some places. The 2,800-acre body serves as the community's main reservoir for drinking water and industrial use.

The depth has been increased to allow for another 34 days worth of the water supply, which city leaders have said is crucial for an industry town stricken by drought just five years ago.

The Corley Landfill site holds sediment from the lake where the bioenergy crops are grown.

"We were also able to get the delegation up close to the equipment and they had a good view of just how the dredge works," Alexander said.

tlisi@herald-review.com | (217) 421-6949

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Staff Writer

Government-watchdog reporter for the Herald & Review.

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