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Watershed Planning

As part of CMAP's Areawide Water Quality Planning role, the agency serves as a regional watershed coordinator when appropriate and leads one or more watershed planning processes at any given time in the northeastern Illinois region. Watershed planning is a voluntary process that proceeds in collaboration with key local interests and others. Watershed plans are advisory only, but necessary for implementation project ideas to be funded with Section 319 grants. 

Watershed plans must address U.S. EPA's and the Illinois EPA's nine key components of a watershed-based plan that are helpful in protecting or achieving improved water quality. Furthermore, plans must include this information if funded by the federal Clean Water Act.

More recently, CMAP seeks to address regional planning criteria as described below:

CMAP's Regional Planning Criteria


1. Estimate pollutant loads for impaired watersheds based on current land use. With stakeholder input, establish pollutant-load reduction goals where possible and taking into account both point- and nonpoint-source pollution.

2. Consider groundwater protection from both water quality and water quantity perspectives.

3. Compare municipal codes and ordinances against the US EPA developed Water Quality Scorecard and other similar guidance documents for purposes of protecting water quality when funding is sufficient for doing so.

Download a map (also, click on thumbnail image above right) illustrating completed watershed plans and plans underway.


What is a watershed? A watershed is a land area that drains to a common location such as a lake, another stream or river, an estuary, or the ocean. Watershed planning is a collaborative approach, with community involvement, that seeks to address a variety water resource concerns and opportunities. As part of the planning process, strategy recommendations are developed to help restore the beneficial uses of impaired waters or protect and maintain the quality of unimpaired or threatened waters. Since watershed planning creates a forum for community discussion and deliberations, other objectives are often pursued too. Thus, multi-objective plans acknowledge the value of water and other natural resources and with this perspective, seek to improve quality-of-life in the watershed for both current residents and future generations.

A list of CMAP developed watershed plans include:

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