Section 319 Grant Funding, Watershed-Based Plan Updates, and More!

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Watershed ENews

December 2019 Edition

Illinois EPA Section 319 Grant Awarded to Seven New Water Quality Improvement Projects 

The Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) was recently awarded a $1.2 million Section 319 grant by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) to implement seven projects identified in local watershed-based plans. These projects will reduce nonpoint source pollution and improve water quality in the Des Plaines River, North Branch Chicago River, and Fox River watersheds. By watershed, the projects and local funding partners include:

Van Patten Woods

Des Plaines River:

1. Lake County Forest Preserve District, Van Patten Woods Hydrological Restoration and Enhancement: Retire 94.5 acres of farm field and convert to native vegetation, disable approximately two miles of drain tile, install grade control on small streams and collectively benefit 75 acres of wetlands and the adjacent Des Plaines River.
Pictured Above: Van Patten Woods

2. Lake County Health Department, Removal of Carp to Reduce Nutrient Enrichment: Pilot project to determine viability of carp removal as a lake management measure to improve water quality by reducing nutrient cycling and sediment suspension caused by carp. Carp removal will occur in Slough, Crooked, Hastings, and McDonald Woods Lakes.

East Skokie

North Branch Chicago River:

3. The Park District of Highland Park, Highland Park Country Club Shoreline Restoration and Wetland Enhancement: Part of a larger conversion project of the Highland Park County Club golf course to a passive recreation site. This project will restore and stabilize the shoreline of a large pond as well as enhance wetland and wetland buffers on the site.

4. East Skokie Drainage District, Skokie River Stream Stabilization: Stabilize over 5,000 feet of streambank on the Skokie River between Westleigh and Old Elm Road in Lake Forest. Pictured Above: Skokie River 

5. The Village of Glenview, Pine Street Streambank Stabilization: Stabilize over 700 feet of streambank on the West Fork North Branch Chicago River and install two stormwater bioretention practices adjacent to the streambank and on a floodplain buyout property.

Fox River:

6. Timberlake Estates Civic Association, Timber Lake Inlet Stabilization: Second phase of a long-term project to stabilize a tributary to Timber Lake in Cuba Township. The project will stabilize 1,242 feet of streambank and install 40 rock checks, 90 feet of bioswales, 0.96ac. of riparian area and a sediment forebay.

7. Flint Creek/Spring Creek Watersheds Partnership, Flint Creek Watershed BMP Monitoring Project: Calibrate five (5) stream gages operated by the Partnership to study and measure the effectiveness of water quality improvement BMPs in the watershed.

Watershed-Based Plan Updates 

Lake Michigan

1. Lake Michigan 

The watershed planning area covers the Lake Michigan watershed in Lake County and the ravine watersheds in Cook County from Tower Road north. The Lake Michigan watershed planning process began in late 2018 and held its initial stakeholder meeting in April 2019.  Pictured Above: Waukegan River (taken during SMC's stream inventory)

SMC has completed the detention basin inventory in the summer of 2019 and is nearing completion of its inventory of more than 70 miles of streams in the watershed. In early 2019, SMC also completed an inventory of the more than 50 ravine systems. In November 2019, SMC reached out to watershed stakeholders to update the Flood Problem Area Inventory for the Lake Michigan and North Branch Chicago River (see below) watersheds to identify areas where flooding issues exist or provide additional information on existing flood problem areas.

SMC anticipates completion of the watershed-based plan in late 2020. More information is available on the SMC’s Lake Michigan Watershed web page.

Stream Inventory

2. North Branch Chicago River 

The North Branch Chicago River (NBCR) Watershed-Based Plan grant period extends from November 15, 2018 through December 31, 2020. To date, draft chapters 1, 2, and 8 have been completed, and draft versions of chapters 3 and 4 are in progress.

SMC completed the NBCR stream inventory in Lake County and partnered with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Forest Preserve District of Cook County and Triton College to perform a stream and detention basin inventory in the Cook County portion of the watershed. The North Branch Chicago River Watershed Workgroup (NBWW) has completed a full cycle of monitoring data that will be utilized as local match towards the grant and incorporated into the watershed plan update. Pictured Above: Stream Inventory Training

SMC has hosted four watershed planning meetings in conjunction with the NBWW General Membership Meetings. These meetings have provided an opportunity to stakeholder to provide feedback on the watershed-based plan update. SMC anticipates completion of the watershed-based plan in late 2020. More information is available on the SMC’s NBCR Watershed web page.

Watershed Highlights 


Des Plaines River Watershed Plan Committee

The Des Plaines River Watershed Plan Committee’s purpose is to evaluate progress in implementing the Des Plaines River Watershed-Based Plan. Evaluating the watershed plan is critical to measuring the success of the plan’s implementation. SMC staff and many watershed stakeholders spent significant time and effort to complete the 2018 Des Plaines River Watershed-Based Plan. It is important that plan implementation (through projects, programs, etc.) be evaluated to ensure implementation efforts are being continued.

A goal of this plan committee is to provide coordination on watershed project implementation and provide a forum to discuss stakeholder projects and announcements. Ultimately, the information shared, and data evaluated, will translate to the update of the next Des Plaines River Watershed-Based Plan. This plan committee is an ad hoc committee of watershed stakeholders that does not require formal membership or dues and its meetings are open to the public.

SMC hosted the Des Plaines River Watershed Plan Committee kickoff meeting on October 23, 2019. The Des Plaines River Watershed Plan Committee anticipates meeting 1-2 times per year based on the direction of the Des Plaines River Watershed Steering Committee. To receive meeting notifications for the Des Plaines River Watershed Plan Committee meetings, click here.


Illinois EPA Section 319 Funding:

  •  FY19 seven (7) watershed water quality improvement projects.

  • The North Branch Chicago River and Lake Michigan Watersheds received Illinois Department of Natural Resources and 319 Grants.

  • Funding for these projects and watershed-based plans is provided, in part, by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.

Upcoming Events

NBWW General Membership Meeting:

Feb. 12, 2020
1-3 p.m.
Heller Nature Center
2821 Ridge Rd
Highland Park, IL 

DRWW General Membership Meeting:

Feb. 20, 2020
1 p.m.
Lake County SMC
Office, Second Floor
500 W. Winchester Rd,
Libertyville, IL

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