Watershed plan calls for restoration of natural areas

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 4:23 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 11:22 p.m. CDT

ALGONQUIN – Plans meant to promote the preservation and protection of local watersheds call for recommendations that would improve green infrastructure, improve water quality and restore habitats.

Plans for the Woods Creek watershed and the Jelkes Creek-Fox River watershed recently were completed with the use of grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Algonquin Village Board this week adopted both plans.

The Woods Creek Watershed Plan was put together by an intergovernmental group from Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake and the Crystal Lake Park District. The stakeholders aimed to find ways to preserve, protect and improve the watershed.

The Jelkes Creek watershed includes parts of northern Kane, southern McHenry and Cook counties.

The Jelkes plan, put together by the Kane-DuPage Soil and Water Conservation District, recommends retrofits to existing stormwater management infrastructure to address pollutant loading and increased runoff in developed areas, stream channel and corridor restoration to improve habitat for aquatic life and improved management practices on farmland to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff.

According to the Woods Creek plan, 62 percent of the stream has moderate to high erosion on the streambanks, which causes solids and phosphorus to go downstream. Within Woods Creek Lake, there have been high totals of phosphorus, total suspended solids and mercury documented.

The plan does note there is a well-preserved green infrastructure network with interconnecting paths along Woods Creek and its tributaries, and the watershed partners have taken the lead in implementing watershed improvement projects.

Those projects include planting a rain garden at Nockels Park in Lake in the Hills and clearing of a swale behind the Algonquin Area Public Library to eliminate invasive species and replace them with native wetland plants to stabilize soils and filter stormwater.

The Woods Creek plan recommends that municipalities maintain naturalized storm detention ponds, require development impact fees and special service area taxes to help fund future management of green infrastructure, control non-native and invasive plant species and consider using no or low phosphorous fertilizers.

The plan also recommends that streambank and channels that are highly eroded be restored and detention basins be retrofitted with native vegetation.

Among the things residents and businesses can do is use less fertilizer on lawns and consider using organic products. They can use less salt during the winter on driveways, parking lots and sidewalks, and they can use native landscaping to decrease watering needs and maintenance.

“From this information, plans and recommendations can be made within the village to improve green infrastructure, improve water quality, conserve groundwater, restore habitat and provide educational and recreational opportunities,” Assistant Public Works Director Michele Zimmerman wrote in a memo to the Village Board.

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