News Release: Stormwater Management Commission Receives Increased Funding to Address Flooding Issues Countywide

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November 22, 2019

Stormwater Management Commission Receives Increased Funding to Address Flooding Issues Countywide

Lake County residents may soon see some relief from their stormwater issues as the Lake County Board approved additional funding for the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) in 2020. The funds will support multiple projects throughout the county and will have a significant impact in helping to alleviate two of the county’s biggest problems--stormwater runoff and flooding.

Over the past few years, Lake County has seen an increase in the occurrence of flood events, which has led to a heightened need for more flood mitigation. In 2018, Lake County rivers went above flood stage during six separate storm events, which was triple the average number of flood events that went above flood stage over the previous 10 years, and it was a record for the county. This year, Lake County rivers exceeded flood stage seven times. 

Earlier this month, in an effort to provide residents with relief from flooding issues, the Lake County Board approved $2.1 million for fiscal year 2020 for SMC's new capital improvement plan, $1.6 million for flood-prone property buyouts and $1.2 million for seven watershed projects for water quality improvements and other stormwater management benefits, for a total of $4.9 million. 

With Lake County receiving stronger and more frequent rainfall, stormwater management projects have become critical. SMC's capital improvement plan will enable SMC to prioritize, design and construct the most beneficial and regionally impactful projects while improving conditions in flood-prone areas. The plan will be focused on three improvement areas: surface water/flood mitigation infrastructure, flooded property buyouts, and stream maintenance. 

"SMC continuously strives to have a positive impact and be proactive on Lake County's flooding and stormwater issues," said Mike Warner, SMC Executive Director. "We are involved in many infrastructure projects each year, and with the addition of the capital improvement plan, we can begin working on bigger projects that will have a larger, beneficial impact for residents."

The money for the capital improvement plan includes two locations in Park City and North Chicago. The Park City project will mitigate flooding for 1,070 structures and 20 roads, and the North Chicago project provides flood relief for the Strawberry Condominium Complex, where more than 60 townhouses are repeatedly impacted. 

Funding was also appropriated for two grants that were not tied to the capital improvement plan.

  • $1.6 million in funding from Lake County will be used for a $3.2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood-prone buyout grant. The rest of the project money will come from a combination of FEMA and the City of Highland Park. The funding will be used to purchase, demolish and stabilize the site of four structures, including two homes at risk from a landslide, and two flood-prone properties in Highland Park. 
  • $1.2 million is from an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Section 319 grant of the Clean Water Act and will be used to implement seven projects with a total project cost of $3.7 million. The projects are located throughout the Des Plaines, Fox, and North Branch Chicago River watersheds and include stream bank stabilization, shoreline restoration, and more.

Through grants and other funding sources, SMC is able to bring in funds for projects on a 3:1 ratio, meaning $1 of county funding buys $3 of project work. Some projects do not require SMC to contribute funds of their own.  

"SMC's unique ability to create broad, comprehensive plans to solve Lake County's stormwater problems has allowed them to bring in millions of dollars in funding through diverse grants," said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. "From working on stream related problems to buying out homes, they have always done an outstanding job. The funding SMC received will help them continue their tremendous work." 

With rainfall increasing in frequency and intensity, the projects SMC will complete with all funding sources will help create a more sustainable future for residents.

"The rain isn't going away so we need to find ways to manage this issue into the future in a sustainable way," said Craig Taylor, SMC Chairman and District 19 Lake County Board Member. "Mitigation of flood problems will help residents, businesses, tourism and the Lake County economy due to the increased use of our lakes and waterways. I'm confident that SMC will be able to relieve some of the flooding issues we're facing with the funding they received."   


Angela Panateri
Associate Communications Specialist