Promote a Sustainable Environment

Preserve the health of our natural resources, air quality, and our drinking water through the widespread use of sustainable and environmental management practices, effective storm water management, and the enhancement and rehabilitation of lakes and other ecological systems.

Protecting Our Environment

Stormwater Management

The Diamond Sylvan Lake Decommission Project, completed in June, is a green infrastructure project that converted a wastewater treatment lagoon into a wet weather storage facility capable of storing 1.24 million gallons per day.

Wastewater Treatment Upgrade

Lake County has installed enhanced biological nutrient removal (eBNR) at its Mill Creek and Vernon Hills Water Reclamation Facilities and is in the process of installing eBNR at the County’s Des Plaines River Water Reclamation Facility. The technology removes 98% of total phosphorus and 50% of total nutrients in water leaving the facility and enhances the water quality and health of the receiving streams and rivers in Lake County.

Water Conservation

In an effort to promote water conservation, the County has revised its water/sewer billing structure by reducing the minimum billing charge for water and sewer from 6,000 gallons per two month bill to 4,000 gallons per two month bill and has implemented a tiered water rate.

Streambank Stabilization

The County has completed a streambank stabilization project along Aptakisic Creek to reduce erosion, and improve water quality and aquatic habitat. This project improved a 1,600 foot stretch of the creek just south of Pekara Drive in Buffalo Grove.

Resource Conservation

Lake County, through automation and other operational efficiency measures, has reduced its paper use by 1.7 million sheets in 2015, or 16% since 2013. Four departments had the greatest cuts, including State’s Attorney Office, Courts, County Clerk and Recorder of Deeds, representing a 65% total paper use reduction.

County Offers Free Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Lake County has installed electric vehicle charging stations at its county facilities, which are free for public use. These stations provide electric energy to recharge plug-in electric vehicles, including all-electric cars, neighborhood electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Electric vehicle owners must have a ChargePoint membership to access the County’s charging stations.

Advancing Efforts to Divert Waste and Increase Recycling

Communities in Lake County, along with SWALCO, continue to implement the 60% Recycling Task Force Plan. The overall municipal waste recycling rate in Lake County is estimated at 48%, which is up 3% from 2010. SWALCO hosted 30 household chemical waste (HCW) collection events in 2015 diverting approximately 700,000 pounds of HCW from final disposal. SWALCO, in cooperation with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and 24 local law enforcement collection partners, recovered approximately 11,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals in 2015, including controlled substances with an estimated street value of over $750,000. Finally, over 3.7 million pounds of electronics were collected at SWALCO’s network of five permanent collection sites.

Textile Collection Program

Lake County hosts a permanent clothing and textile bin at its Libertyville campus as part of SWALCO’s Clothing and Textile Recycling program. It is currently one of 21 sites around the county. Both staff and residents can drop off their new, gently used or worn clothing and household textiles for reuse and recycling. In addition to diverting these materials from our landfills, the program also conserves energy and water and reduces pollution and the community’s carbon footprint. In its first year, the bin averaged 414 pounds per month with a goal of 800 per month over the next few years.

Construction & Demolition (C&D) Debris Recycling

In implementing the 60% Recycling Plan, Lake County enacted an ordinance requiring the recycling of construction and demolition (C&D) debris. In 2015, approximately 6,000 tons of C&D debris was recycled under permits triggered by the ordinance (excluding roofing and siding projects). Based on this self-reported data, it appears the 75% diversion rate requirement continues to be exceeded. In addition, the Planning, Building, and Development Department issued 771 roofing and siding permits which resulted in 2,313 tons of recycled construction waste. In total, 8,300 tons, or 16 million pounds of C&D debris was diverted from our landfills last year. 
Swalco Recyling

Sustainable Transportation

The electric vehicle pilot program was fully deployed in June 2015 and included three vehicles as well as charging stations installed at the Central Permit Facility and the Health Department’s facility on Grand Avenue in Waukegan. To date, an average of four cars per day use the stations and a total of 2.4 megawatt hours of energy have been used, or equivalent to about $216 in fuel costs. That usage also translates to about 1,000 kg of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by using EVs in lieu of gas powered vehicles. In addition, as part of the Peterson Road corridor project, the Division of Transportation constructed a new paved bike path, using 2,650 tons of asphalt containing recycled asphalt shingle.

Green Infrastructure

In 2015, the Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) implemented or administered grant and CCIP-funded green infrastructure projects that have created 2,000 feet of restored stream channel and 750 feet of shoreline restoration for the Skokie River, and restored a total of 550 linear feet of stream bank in the Indian Creek watershed. In addition, the Watershed Management Board, through the Stormwater Infrastructure Repair Fund, approved a total of 18 projects in 2015. SMC also co-sponsored 4 stream/river clean-up events:
  • Mill Creek Crossing HOA, Gurnee
  • Buffalo Creek at Rylko Park - Clean Water Partnership and Buffalo Grove Park District
  • It’s Our River Day - Friends of Chicago River
  • Fox and Chain O’Lakes Clean-up - Fox Waterway Agency