Chicago River Watershed Council Gets Started

The Chicago River Watershed Council will improve water quality; protect, expand, and restore natural areas; increase access to open space; and improve regional resiliency benefitting people, water, and wildlife.

Working in concert with government, planning agencies and nonprofit partners whose missions align around stormwater management, flooding, ecological health, public health, or combinations of these, the partners of the Watershed Council will define a model for coordinated regional management and identify multi-objective open space opportunities for the Chicago/Calumet river watershed. The Council will engage and protect our most impacted communities and adhere to equity and environmental justice values.

The Watershed Council is the natural next step in addressing the increasing impacts associated with stormwater which are becoming worse with the onset of the climate crisis and greater and more intense rainfall. The Chicago/Calumet watershed currently lacks a forum for holistic green stormwater infrastructure collaboration and while all kinds of excellent efforts to manage stormwater exist, there is a distinct opportunity to expand the positive results of these projects by working together on broader watershed-based initiatives. The Watershed Council will provide an assist to struggling wildlife species and contribute to Friends' vision of the river system as a blue-green corridor of connected natural open space.

Friends of the Chicago River believes that the formation of a coalition for nature-based green infrastructure is the first step to realizing broader benefits and a more effective use of project funding. The Council will identify sustainable funding models and opportunities for sharing resources.

This unprecedented effort includes the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Friends, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, OAI, Openlands, and the Trust for Public Lands.