Beginning in 2010, community members have gathered in Crystal Lake to discuss new opportunities to address water resource protections in eastern McHenry County. Local residents, community leaders,
non-profit organizations, representatives of local governments, businesses and others discussed priorities for protecting streams, lakes, groundwater and other natural resources.
Community members have been meeting to identify priority goals and to develop plans designed to protect water resources in the Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds of eastern McHenry County.
This "watershed planning" process is a comprehensive,
community supported approach to improving
water quality, considering groundwater protection, and restoring
healthy aquatic communities on a watershed basis. Watershed planning provides opportunities for community
members from multiple jurisdictions to work together and develop
solutions to shared water resource challenges.
A plan has been developed for each watershed. The Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds are home to
significant natural resources including dedicated Illinois Nature
Preserves, rare fens, and several lakes enjoyed by community members as
a source of recreation.
The Defenders and other participating
organizations are working with local community members to
implement the watershed plans that consider local priorities and concerns. If you live, work, or play in the Silver Creek
or Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds, please consider attending a meeting.
HERE to view the plan.
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a
common receiving body or outlet such as a stream. Watershed boundaries
are defined by nature and are largely determined by the topography or
"lay of the land."
Where Are the Watersheds?
Sleepy Hollow Creek Watershed
(Includes Sleepy Hollow Creek and one other Fox River tributary stream)
Silver Creek Watershed
(Includes Silver Creek and other
Fox River tributary streams)
Communities within the planning areas include Oakwood Hills, Prairie Grove, and portions of Bull Valley, Cary, Crystal Lake, and McHenry.
Portions of Nunda Township, Algonquin Township and unincorporated McHenry County are also within the planning areas.
Community Members discuss watershed planning priorities.
First Planning Meeting in 2010
at Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake
Silver Creek Watershed
Veteran Acres Park
Sleepy Hollow Creek Watershed
Watershed planning provides opportunities for communities to work together, share information, and target limited finanical resources to address common water resource protection challenges.
These challenges can include improving stream and lake
water quality, preserving and protecting groundwater resources,
managing stormwater, reducing soil erosion and flood damage, conserving
open space, protecting wildlife habitat, providing safe lake and stream
recreational opportunities, supporting opportunities for economic
development, preserving prime farmland, and other issues of concern.
Watershed planning addresses these shared community concerns in ways that more closely match the natural flow of water.
Benefits of Watershed Planning
Watershed planning efforts can help raise public
awareness and support for local sustainability initiatives. Watershed-based plans are being developed throughout Illinois and
elsewhere in the country to address nonpoint-source pollution prevention and water resource protection needs.
One purpose of this collaborative effort is
to identify priority projects to improve
water quality. Projects identified in these plans can be become
eligible for state and federal grants, including Clean Water Act, Section 319 nonpoint source pollution control grant funding.
Project Background Information
These planning projects are funded by Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act by way of a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Water, to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). Watershed planning oversight is the responsibility of CMAP under a master agreement with the Illinois Environmental
Protection Agency (IEPA). CMAP is the delegated authority for the
region’s areawide water quality management plan. The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County (EDMC) and the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) are partners in the planning process and have received grants
from CMAP to provide watershed coordination and community outreach. The Fox River Study Group is also involved because the hydrologic and water quality simulation
models being developed for them by the Illinois State Water Survey will
be used to estimate watershed-pollutant loads. The watershed plans are
to be completed by December 31, 2011.
Watershed plans funded by the CWA must meet criteria established
by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This planning process
will follow the Guidance for Developing Watershed Action Plans in Illinois,
created by CMAP and IEPA. Additionally, this plan will work to address
newer regional planning criteria including groundwater protection
The Fox River Watershed
The Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow Creek watersheds are part of the larger Fox River watershed. The Fox River is an important source of drinking water, community recreation and wildlife habitat. The Fox River watershed is a significant recreational
resource and home to 150 state-threatened and endangered species in
the region. However, Fox River water quality has been impaired by activities that have not adequately protected
the rich natural resources of the watershed. Working to protect the Silver Creek and Sleepy Hollow
Creek watersheds will support local communities and help to restore the health of the Fox River.