Surface Water Hydrology and Hydraulics - Watersheds, Illinois State Water Survey

Surface Water Hydrology and Hydraulics

Lake County

National Monitoring for Instream Habitat and Urban Fisheries in the Waukegan River

Principal Investigators: William P. White, Don Roseboom

Project Staff: Denise Devotta, Joy Miller, Tom Hill, Rob Hilsabeck, John Beardsley, Jon Rodsater, Long Duong

Sponsor: City of Waukegan, United States and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Project Period: September 1991 - July 2006

The Waukegan River project was designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of stream restoration techniques. The watershed is heavily urbanized and has been for many years, therefore, there is little control over stormwater discharge (quantity or quality) resulting in flashy runoff rates and heavy stormwater pollutant loads. Sediment was initially deemed to be the main pollutant. Water quality concerns also included cross-connections between sanitary and storm sewers, hydraulic undermining of the sanitary and stormsewers, potential sanitary sewer overflows during wet weather, severe streambank erosion, channel incision and artificial lining. In addition to physical channel instability, the urban fisheries and stream habitat were highly degraded; particularly at the onset of this project when the system exhibited impairments due to lack of water depth in pools, limited cobble substrates, and limited stream aeration.

Findings to Date:

Specifically, the project demonstrated that biotechnical streambank stabilization techniques can be more cost-effective than traditional armoring approaches alone and that these techniques work well in conjunction with an array of innovative techniques (i.e., Lunker Structures, A-Jacks, riffle/pools, etc.) in reducing erosion and providing additional water quality and in-stream habitat benefits. Overall, the project clearly showed that naturalization of stream channel morphology and enhancement of habitat does improve biological diversity, at least temporarily, but sustaining biological diversity is not necessarily achievable by those efforts alone. Oftentimes more comprehensive conservation applications are required to address other systemic problems relating more specifically to water quality impairments and hydrologic discharge extremes. It is clear that in the case of the Waukegan River Watershed, there is a need to innovatively update sewage and stormwater infrastructure and maintenance operations as well as adopt comprehensive plans and management ordinances which implement and enforce alternative conservation practices that infiltrate and purify stormwater.

Project Publications:

Roseboom, D. P., T. E. Hill, J. D. Beardsley, J. A. Rodsater, and L. T. Duong, 1998, Biological and Physical Monitoring of Waukegan River Restoration Efforts in Biotechnical Bank Protection and Pool/Riffle Creation-National Watershed Monitoring Project. Illinois State Water Survey Contract Report 629, Champaign, IL. (http://www.isws.illinois.edu/pubs/pubdetail.asp?CallNumber=ISWS+CR%2D629,

White, W. P., T. E. Hill, J. D. Beardsley, J. A. Rodsater, and L. T. Duong, 2003, Biological and Physical Monitoring of Waukegan River Restoration Efforts in Biotechnical Bank Protection and Pool/Riffle Creation-National Watershed Monitoring Project. Annual Report. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 5). http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/chief/library/extpubs/archive/epW.htm

White, W. P., J. D. Beardsley, J. A. Rodsater, L. T. Duong, and S. Tomkins, 2006,  Waukegan River National Monitoring Program.  DVD and VHS video productions prepared by the Illinois State Water Survey for the Illinois EPA/USEPA Region 5.

White, W. P., J. D. Beardsley and S. Tomkins, 2010, “Draft” Waukegan River: Illinois National Nonpoint Source Monitoring Program Project,  Article produced for the NCSU Water Quality Group Newsletter “NWQEP” Project Spotlight., Illinois State Water Survey, Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Ill

Looking upstream at a series of riffle structures constructed on the South Branch of the Waukegan River.
Bill White (ISWS) hosting a tour for USEPA and IEPA officials of the projects on the Waukegan River.
Attendees of the Second National Nonpoint Source Monitoring Workshop inspect ISWS stream restoration progress on the South Branch of the Waukegan River in 1994.
Project staff collect data on the Waukegan River.
Staff from ISWS and IEPA conducting a fish survey on the South Branch of the Waukegan River.


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