Weldon Gerdes>UIS Collection C-G>UIS Collection C-G, Segment 11


duration 10:22
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Has lived on Sangamon River for fifty years, and was born in Bath, IL, on Illinois River. Rivers have been aggravating to him. Owned overflow ground and often lost crops to river. Lose one crop out of every five. In 1959 the crops were nearly destroyed. Usually it can be replanted. Does not irrigate with river. Levied the farm to hold back the water. Prevents damage from small floods but no levee on Sangamon River is built to prevent large floods. Highest flood on record was 1943, then 1926. Much of Petersburg was underwater, but it did not disturb farming. He states that river does not carry fertile soil with it.
Learned to water ski on the river when he was young using a friend's speed or motor boat. With obstacles in river, you learn fast.
River is very shallow now. Water table is really low now due to lacking rainfall. Rainfall was down 6-7 inches the previous year and the year before that. He believes that water levels change every 7-10 years, alternating dry decades and wet decades. Soil needs moisture now.
Fished only a few times. Does not swim in river because it used to be too polluted with sewage. Thinks the Environmental Protection Agency has helped in cleaning up the river. River does not smell as bad now when the water is low. Thinks pollution from farms is necessary for farming. Thinks farmers are good at controlling erosion. Recently the 208 clean water bill was passed with the goal of zero erosion by 2005 but thinks it will not happen because erosion is inevitable. Thinks tenant farmers care a little less than farmers who own their property. Family owns a couple farms. Wants to keep his topsoil because it saves money.