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. 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.

DesPlainesRiverWatershed_Location Map3

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). The Des Plaines River (DPR) planning 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, 240 miles of stream, 17,000 acres of wetland, and 53 named lakes. The DPR planning area is comprised of eleven 12-digit Hydrologic Units (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). This “umbrella” plan updates or completes watershed-based planning for all ten subwatersheds. 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.

Lake County Stormwater Management Commission took the lead to develop a watershed-based plan for the DPR planning area. The purpose of this effort was to develop a plan to reduce the impacts of water pollution and flood damage; restore watershed lakes, streams, and wetlands to a healthy condition; and provide opportunities for watershed stakeholders to have a significant role in the process. This watershed-based plan does not  address groundwater quality issues, focusing instead on stormwater and surface water runoff. Funding for this plan was provided, in part, by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, and the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission.


Des Plaines River Watershed-Based Plan

Small Watershed Assessment and Action Plan (SWAAP) 

The Small Watershed Assessment and Action Plan Project (SWAAP) report assessed, in detail, current on-the-ground conditions and detailed geospatial data assessments for two locations with the Des Plaines River Watershed. Assessed in detail, include areas in and around Loch Lomond in Mundelein, IL and Buffalo Creek in Long Grove, IL. The assessments recommend specific watershed protection and restoration projects that can be used by local stakeholders to improve existing water quality problems within their community. To realize improvements in water quality, programmatic project recommendations from watershed-based plans must be transitioned from general recommendations, to an implementable project that will improve water quality within the watershed. The detailed assessments presented in this SWAAP are implementable recommendations with conceptual project designs, supported with project definition, probable cost and purported water quality improvement benefits in order for stakeholders to implement or secure future funding for project implementation.

Final SWAAP Report

For more information, contact Ashley Strelcheck, 847-377-7710 or Mike Prusila, 847-377-7713.