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. A watershed-based planning approach for water quality protection and remediation is an important framework for addressing today's water resource challenges. Watershed plans are advisory only, but necessary for implementation project ideas to be funded through some funding programs. A watershed is the area of land where water drains to a common location, such as a river or stream. Using a watershed as a project boundary allows the plan to be defined by the hydrology of the area.
Watershed planning is a collaborative approach that addresses a variety of 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 deliberation, other objectives are often pursued as well. These 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.
CMAP has been involved in the development of numerous watershed plans in northeastern Illinois as a key step of implementing the Areawide Water Quality Management Plan. CMAP has worked directly with local stakeholders to develop watershed plans, assisted others with watershed plan development, provided administrative oversight on behalf of Illinois EPA for plans developed by others, and assisted with plan implementation following completion of watershed plans.
In order to be eligible for Clean Water Act Section 319 grant funding for nonpoint source pollution control projects, watershed plans must address U.S. EPA's nine key elements, which are in Guidance for Developing Watershed Action Plans in Illinois.
Download a map (click on image below for larger version) illustrating completed watershed plans and plans underway. For a list of completed plans in the region with links to plan documents and partner organizations, click here.