Fulton County is blessed with abundant surface water resources. The Illinois River forms some 30.5 miles of the eastern boundary, and the Spoon River flows for 52 miles through its center. These two rivers plus their major tributaries such as Cedar Creek, Coal Creek, Put Creek, Otter Creek, Copperas Creek and others total 186 miles and 3, 751 acres of flowing major streams. Natural lakes along the Illinois River such as Anderson Lake, Rice Lake, and Emiquon add approximately 8,000 more acres of water.
Several communities have constructed artificial lakes by damming small streams and many private landowners have done the same. The past practice of strip mining for coal has left many pits that collect water. In 1962, there were 961 with an acreage of 2,104.
Throughout the county most water for drinking is derived from sub-surface or ground water, that we tap with wells. Deep wells find water in bed rock layers of sandstone and limestone in quantity, but this water is usually highly mineralized and has a salty or sulfurous taste. Minerals account for 2,000 to 4,000 parts per million in wells that tap these deep sources.
Fulton County’s groundwater comes mostly from shallow aquifers, with a sand/gravel aquifer in areas along the Illinois River floodplain and in a narrow strip along the Spoon River. These sand and gravel deposits were laid down by glaciers and ancient streams on top of bed rock. The quality of water from these deposits are excellent.
Canton, the largest community in the county, uses water from Lake Canton and the Illinois River for its municipal water supply. Other communities use groundwater wells.
On a scale of 10, Fulton County ranks a 7.2 in overall water quality. In the State of Illinois, Fulton County area ranks 12 for Water Quality. Nationally, Fulton County ranks 245 out of 2,379.
Information on community water supplies can be viewed at the Illinois EPA website.
Canton Water Quality Report for 2016