Des Plaines River Watershed

About the Watershed


The Des Plaines River watershed covers 1,455 square miles (or 931,489 acres) in northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. The Des Plaines River begins near Union Grove, Wisconsin and flows south through Racine and Kenosha Counties in Wisconsin and Lake, Cook, and Will Counties in Illinois. The river joins the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in Lockport, Illinois and flows west through Joliet, before converging with the Kankakee River to form the Illinois River. The Illinois River then flows into the Mississippi River, which flows south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The drainage area of the Des Plaines River Watershed was increased by 673 square miles when there was a diversion of Lake Michigan water through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Cal-Sag Channel in the early 1900's (Pescitelli, 2013). Since January 17, 1900, there has been limited diversion of water from Lake Michigan through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to the Illinois River (Healy, 1979).

Des Plaines River Watershed-Based Plan

The Des Plaines River Watershed-Based Plan covers 16% of the Des Plaines River watershed, or approximately 235 square miles (150,361 acres). Hereinafter referred to as the Des Plaines River (DPR) planning area, this area encompasses portions of central Lake County, Illinois; southern Kenosha County, Wisconsin; and northern Cook County, Illinois, with portions of 39 municipalities and 15 townships (see Figure 1‑4), 240 miles of stream, 17,000 acres of wetland, and 53 named lakes. Figure 1‑3 depicts the size and location of the Des Plaines River Watershed compared to the DPR planning area. The DPR planning area is comprised of eleven 12-digit HUCs.

The Des Plaines River Watershed-Based Plan is an “umbrella” watershed-based plan because the 235 square-mile planning area includes 10 subwatersheds. Five watershed-based plans have been completed for six subwatersheds of the DPR planning area in Lake County (Watershed Management Plans).

Four subwatersheds do not have watershed-based plans completed: Newport Drainage Ditch, Upper Des Plaines, Lower Des Plaines, and Aptakisic Creek. This “umbrella” plan updates or completes watershed-based planning for all ten subwatersheds (see Figure 1‑2 for the DPR planning area subwatersheds planning status as of March 2016). This umbrella plan also guides local stakeholders to implement best management practices (BMPs) that provide cost and pollution effective solutions to surface water quality impairments.


10 Subwatersheds

  • Aptakisic Creek
  • Buffalo Creek
  • Bull Creek
  • Bulls Brook
  • Indian Creek
  • Lower Des Plaines
  • Mill Creek
  • Newport Drainage Ditch
  • North Mill Creek-Dutch Gap Canal
  • Upper Des Plaines

DPR Watershed Web Applications

Des Plaines River Subwatershed Planning Area - Subwatersheds and Jurisdictions
You can use this web mapping application to search an address, subwatershed, lake, municipality, or township within the planning area. The application will zoom into the searched location and a pop-up will display with some basic information about the searched location. Please click on the help icon for more information.

Des Plaines River Detention Basin Inventory
This web application should be considered "draft." You can use this application to search an address and zoom into an spot within the planning area. The application displays all the inventoried detention basins completed during the Summer of 2016 for the Newport Drainage Ditch Subwatershed, Upper Des Plaines Subwatershed, Lower Des Plaines Subwatershed, and the Aptakisic Creek Subwatershed. Future updates will include detention basin inventories for the North Mill Creek Subwatershed, Mill Creek Subwatershed, Bull Creek Subwatershed, Indian Creek Subwatershed, and Buffalo Creek Subwatershed.