Greater Chicago Watershed Alliance
In 2020, Friends of the Chicago River initiated the Greater Chicago Watershed Alliance (originally established as the Chicago-Calumet River Watershed Council) to establish a forum that would result in collaboration around expanded watershed-based stormwater management using multi-benefit nature-based solutions.
The 20-member Watershed Alliance’s approach is to maximize multiple ecological, social, and climate resiliency objectives across jurisdictional boundaries. Our intent is to harness the power of natural systems to maximize positive improvements that satisfy multiple objectives with each investment and improve ecological, community, and economic health including for the 156-mile Chicago-Calumet River system.
Since then the Watershed Alliance has developed strategies for effective collaboration, recruited new partners, researched best practices for cross jurisdictional funding, identified priority project areas, and began several joint projects that will guide our work and demonstrate its importance.
Nature-based solutions are a more valuable approach because they capture stormwater which contributes to runoff and sewage pollution with the added benefits of reducing neighborhood flooding, the urban heat island effect, air pollution, and impacts of environmental injustice while they create habitat, improve quality of life and public health and wellness among other benefits.
Our main objectives are to:
- Protect, expand, and restore natural areas
- Support environmental justice and community health
- Enhance and protect biodiversity
- Capture stormwater and improve water quality
- Establish sustained investments in green infrastructure
- Increase climate resiliency
- Expand opportunities for recreation and respite
Watershed Alliance current collaborative projects include:
- Project prioritization analysis called the Natural Solutions Tool
- Indian Ridge Marsh-South ecosystem restoration project
Together the Watershed Alliance will continue to identify projects and work with each other and on our own to build healthy, equitable, biodiverse, protected and connected landscapes and communities.