Big Weeks in Water Resources Upon Us

March is a big month for water resources related conferences in Illinois.  Starting next week with the Illinois Floodplain Managers Annual Conference – IAFSM, highlighted next week by the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) Annual Conference, and the Fox River Summit.  These conferences will provide some great overlapping content as well as subject specific information unique to each conference.

The Illinois Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers (IAFSM) Annual Conference will be hosted once again in Tinley Park, IL (  This conference will feature several presentations related to flooding issues such as protection, regulation, prevention, and also provides aspiring professionals the opportunity to take the nationally recognized Floodplain Manager’s Certification Exam.  Additional presentations may also revolve around topical content such as general stormwater and regulation, green infrastructure projects, and restoration.  The conference runs March 14-15th at the Tinley Park Convention Center.

The Fox River Summit will be held in Burlington, WI on March 23rd (  The summit is an excellent one-day endeavor for all things related to the Fox River starting in southern Wisconsin down through northern Illinois prior to its confluence with the Illinois River.  The program always includes a variety of speakers from both states with the common theme of collaboration for the betterment of the entire watershed.

The highlight of course is the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) annual conference held this year in Bloomington (  The conference runs from the 22nd-24th with the workshop encompassing the final day of the conference.  The conference will once again feature the hospitality suite and a myriad of excellent sessions devoted to lakes water quality, biology, protection, and restoration.  The conference is also one of Illinois’s premiere watershed conferences as well.  As the IllinoisLakes Blog is directly sponsored by ILMA, the following information was sent out to membership today by Membership Secretary Karen Clementi as current announcements:

As we get closer to the upcoming conference on March 22-24, we have the following fun announcements to share:

  • We are still soliciting raffle items for our fantastically popular raffle.  Field books, homemade items, adult beverages, white elephant gifts from Christmas, we take it all.  Please contact Leonard Dane at to donate any goodies.
  • Got a photo for our photo contest?  Win $50 and the MAJOR AWARD of next year’s conference program cover.
  • We will be having trivia and hospitality at the hotel for Thursday night’s entertainment.  Those staying both on and off-site are definitely encouraged to attend.
  • Spaces are still available in the Saturday workshop on Midwestern Waterfowl and Shorebirds by the Audubon Society of Illinois. With both a class portion and field trip, it is sure to be both educational and enjoyable.

Karen Clementi

ILMA Membership Secretary

Please enjoy a month of valuable water resources conferences!

~p0sted by Admin


Identifying Worthwhile Stewardship Ventures

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to identify worthwhile stewardship ventures and opportunities is to evaluate the concept of stewardship at its roots.  The idea of stewardship stems from an ethic that centers around the responsible planning and management of resources, in this case environmental resources.  Lakes of course are just one component of our natural environment but cannot be isolated in their care.  Looking more specifically at environmental stewardship, Wikipedia defines it with terms such as conservation and sustainability.  Further referencing the great Aldo Leopold and the land ethic concept.  For those of you who have never read the Sand County Almanac, what I consider and environmentalists staple, I highly recommend it.  If it does not stir some emotion of an intertwined environmental bioverse nothing will.

Back to the to point behind this blog post.  We all have places to go, people to see, politics to complain about.  Of all the ventures we may choose to support on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, how well do we connect with our water resources or environmental stewardship of lake, streams and watersheds?  It’s a difficult question to answer for some.  As a consultant I attend a number or watershed and lake meetings, sit on numerous boards, committees or the like.  You begin to see a lot of the same faces.  The ones you see time and again work well with each other, smile and greet each other, and have bought into the process of these grass roots programs a long time ago, nor

The new faces (or the one you may not recognize) are often their to complain about something not being done, are in unfamiliar territory, or are ignorant to any sort of working processes.  If the ‘workgroup’ is lucky, with the right words there may be a convert inside this individual.

So while stewardship efforts may have a skeletal framework with agency framing, the backbone and muscle of the groups reside in the individuals who comprise them.  These grass roots effort groups provide a number of stewardship efforts and opportunities for anyone who is willing to sit down and listen.  So since you are reading this blog, we assume you are interested in one of a few things:

  1. Your local lake.  Either its long term care or its immediate needs.  You lack a local lake group or are unsure of the capability of your local group to function properly.
  2. Your local water body.  This may take the form or a common water that you periodically frequent or maybe the creek your kids play in nearby.  You have seen something that bothers your and want to know where to go with questions.
  3. HOA commitments.  HOA boards are often ill prepared for dealing with open space issues and need some sort of homing beacon.
  4. Park districts, NFP patrons, or other open space agencies.  Open to new ideas, networking ideas.

At this point we do know from independent surveys that people do believe that the internet is the is the best resource for information which is not to say people are misinformed or under informed, but let’s just say you get back what you put into it.  This is likely to be a future blog piece. 

In northeastern Illinois where stewardship groups are somewhat dense, the structure consists of one or more of the following which can often overlap with the geographic interests:

  1. Watershed Groups:  If you need to find the watershed that your local waterbody of interest resides in, the easiest resource is the EPA Surf your watershed webpage.  It can be down for maintenance routinely, so check back if you cannot find it.  Additionally we are trying to create a repository here as well.  If you do not know what a watershed is, search this blog and there are descriptive blog posts as well.  The internet is also a somewhat viable source.  Just as always with the internet.  All information should be check against more than one source.
  2. Lake or waterbody group: Some lakes, creeks, and streams have their own advocacy groups.  If you are having trouble finding one specifically.  Please contact ILMA and we’ll do our best to help you out.  Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.  For example in Lake Zurich, IL, there is the local lake group which is responsible for the management of the lake itself.  The local sustainability group is known as the Ancient Oaks Foundation.
  3. Regional advocacy focus groups.  Examples of these could be the Conservation Foundation, Openlands, Barrington Area Conservation Trust (BACT), Chicago Wilderness are only a few examples.  Each of these groups may represent a slightly different geographic range or focus, but each have worthwhile efforts.

The best fit may be more than one group depending on your interest level.  Some have found it good to hear a different voice from time to time.  Visiting a alternative group or neighboring group can also be enlightening.  Prior to forming the 9 Lakes Watershed Group, several of the lakes belonged to the 4 Lakes Initiative. Some of the best interaction the group felt was the interaction with the other lake groups and the different approaches they each took to solve intermediate lake problems.

Keep the following things in mind.  Lake groups tend to focus on in-lake problems.  Watershed groups look from the top down to solve water quality problems.  Lake groups can sometimes become lake-centric meaning they don’t realize that the problems they are treating can stem from the watershed.  Throwing money at a in-lake result that begins at the watershed level can be like throwing away money.

Regional groups while looking at a more watershed level approach also tend to integrate policy issues which is important when looking at institutional change that can have a ripple down effect.  These policy practices can provide changes which when integrated with land use policy.  Once in place these policies can provide land development and local government officials the needed tools to enact change at a watershed scale.  Watershed level changes impact the quality of our surface waters.  Therefore, you can see how these levels interact.

There is a lot of knowledge to be gained by interacting at any and all levels.  Of course the interaction also requires time.  Above all is the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) which works to network our membership with all these groups at our annual conference, POD sessions, and web pages (this blog, our facebook page, and our general internet page).

You may find a lot of familiar faces operating at several different levels.  This is not by accident, but often by design.  This includes ILMA and its partner groups.  We encourage interaction at as many of these levels as possible, including attending available conferences or workshops these groups may have to offer.  These may also offer exposure to vendors and additional expertise.

Look no further than the upcoming ILMA Annual Conference (March 22-24), the Fox River Summit in Burlington, WI (March 23rd) for some of these opportunities.

~p0sted by Admin

Lake County Hosted Lake Management Workshop

The Lake County Health Department, Lakes Management Unit (LMU) will be hosting a workshop on developing and writing your own lake management plan.  Lake Management Planning Workshop Feb 24 2018.  These are useful documents to establish lake milestones and gauge the progress of your lake  and association performance over time.  Coupled with applicable watershed plans they can serve as valuable road maps to improving the water quality and internal working of your lake.  The workshop is assisted in its presentation with staff member Holly Hudson of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and co-sponsored by the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA).  Tune in here for any changes!

~p0sted by Admin

Welcome to 2018!

As we come into the New Year it never hurts to get an update on this year’s Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) annual conference.  Some additional details can be found here:

The conference runs from March 22-24 and our Keynote Speaker has been secured from the Alliance for the Great Lakes.  We have also secured several other speakers to engage our audience on a number of topics including fish, birding, funding strategies, dredging, invasive species, cultivating homeowner’s associations, etc.

The location will be Bloomington, as this year represents our downstate cycle.  More details to come.

~p0sted by Admin

The Paradigm of a Natural Environment

Four weeks ago the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) hosted a POD in Palatine focused on common reed, aka Phragmites Australis, one of the most successful invasives to impact our lakes, streams, and wetlands in recent memory.  One of the points commonly made by the presenter is how we have basically created the perfect environment for this species to proliferate.*  This serves a a good lead into discussing how we have molded the urban environment to our will.  The result appears to be a more desirable and livable environment full of tolerable nuisances to mankind while creating a mixed bag of consequential side effects to the natural ecology of the landscape and its native inhabitants.

*Note: This presentation is now available in the Media Center of this Blog.

We often hear our folks talk about the good old days.  Many of us can probably remember our grandparents telling us about the days before that.  Those who have been fortunate can probably remember a few walks down memory lane with great grandparents.  Someday you will tell your children and perhaps grandchildren the same cyclic diatribe, and on and on.  To people “the good ole days” are something very particular.  Cheap gas, less restriction…less distraction perhaps.  Less running around and perhaps a less hurried world.

What if our waters could remember “the good ole days”?  Our waters (lakes, streams, creeks, tributaries, etc) are a reflection of our watershed landscapes.  What if they could realize a time prior to man’s intervention, or a time when we can properly work with nature instead of always against it.  We’ve come a long way in understanding the world and the environment we live in, yet the trek back towards environmental solvency is long and difficult.  The science is getting better but the willpower to enable science to do what is necessary is the harder part of the math.

Along this pathway we also run into an issue of public perception.  Everyone has a built-in perception of what human domain looks like.  This includes our neighborhoods, villages, shopping centers, and transportation corridors.  What’s generally clear is that it is very rarely in step with the natural environment.  We have devastated our shorelines with seawall and piers to access our lakes.  We have bent and channelized our streams and creeks to recover property while filling the overbank floodplains.  Our wetlands are primarily gone.  No first generation forests exist anymore.  Second generation forests are a rarity.  The original inhabitants are…somewhere else.

Our ancestors talk about the clean waters and big fish but they were the first to encroach upon nature and the bill has come due generations later.  It will continue to do so for generations to come if we don’t start to right the ship in a cohesive manner.  Our children inherit our misgivings while we have gone about our daily lives expecting agencies such as EPA, DNR, USACE, and our local governing stormwater agencies and municipalities to do the heavy lifting for us.  The policies needed are still only scratching the surface.

Yet the environment is resilient.  Regardless of the engineering effort put into action to reverse rivers, dry out wetlands, tile the water table, and bridge our creeks.  We can continue to fight it or embrace it.  Our understanding of the green technology that can be used to reduce our impervious impact on the landscape has greatly increased, but it is not standard practice and seemingly impractical to apply under many normal development ordinances and review processes which have been established to encourage legacy practices.

Non-sewered parking lot runoff flows over grass providing a means for urban sediments to deposit over the landscape instead of into the sewer.

If we can agree that the state of our water resources are a reflection of the watershed that drains to them, then we should be able to draw the conclusion that we need to reconsider how we treat the land on which we dwell and that there are consequences from our current land use practices.  Treating runoff like an unwanted resource in one location only to expect it to be in pristine condition when it reaches its final destination is unrealistic.  In an unaltered environment the above scenario may have been possible; however at one time the only impervious surfaces on the earth were exposed stone, water, and ice.

Standard engineering practice is to efficiently route water away through a conduit, getting it away from us as quickly as possible to the nearest creek, lake or pond.  The method in which the water reaches its destination is by no means anything like it originally functioned, heated from the asphalt and escorted like a shotgun blast several times faster.  Our stormwater ponds are a poor reflection of anything natural, often mowed turn grass down to the waters edge.  An environment we created to incubate misquitos which we will complain about incessantly even though we cannot live with the “weedy look” which helps harbor the natural predators needed to curb the nuisance species.  We’ve harbored the perfect environment for many of these invasive species by bringing them to locations without predation that we cannot rid ourselves of them.

So where does this leave us?  Institutional inability to implement science into policy it would seem, but unlike global warming, there is little debate to the science.  After all everything is driven by erosion, or the process of the movement of sediment from one place to another.  This process is 100% a natural condition.  The only difference is the acceleration of the impact due to human intervention.

It’s probably a bit atypical for the common citizen to ask “Why must roads be impervious?”  Yet it may not be atypical for the common citizen lake property owner to ask the question “Why is there so much algae in the lake?”  at first the two seem worlds apart but in really they interconnected through the dynamics of the watershed.  After all the road system helps connect the great conduits of our stormwater delivery system, of which the final chapter is written in out lakes and streams.


The sign does not lie.  The fish await our runoff.

So how does this story end?  Out of sight out of mind will not cut it, but until stormwater regulations make water quality a focus, improvements to water quality will remain a challenge.  How do our waters become “impaired”?  How did we get here?  What’s being done about it?  Discussion of impairments can be found on an earlier blog post from August 2016 and subsequent presentation.

There will be a dedicated session in this year’s Annual ILMA Conference regarding the impact of storwmater and runoff on our lakes.  Cleaning up our storwmater, especially in our urban districts is essential to helping solve impairment issues.  Much of the technology and scientific principles are in place to make for a more naturalized urban environment.  It all comes down to people’s willingness to make the changes in their everyday lives.  These changes come down to cosmetic changes, not physical changes.  Using natural overland drainage patterns instead of storm sewer.  Making parking lots porous instead of solid impervious concrete or asphalt.  Minimizing thermal pollution by harvesting rainwater instead of sending it to small, shallow stormwater facilities or directly to our creeks.

The paradigm of a natural environment does not insinuate and alteration on modern living.  In fact it is quite the opposite.  Implementing green technology, while retro in concept has been forgotten because as consumers we have been shown to crave man made revisions to the landscape.  Our carbon footprint cumulatively within the watershed amounts to a large amount of large pulse of unwanted constituents that simply were not present 200+ years ago.

“Nature did it right” is an easy way to look at things.  Our lakes, streams, and surrounding watersheds form from thousands of years of pre-human intervention and that is the course correction we need in order to turn back the clock to the good ole days for our lakes and streams.

Call for Presenters

Illinois Lakes Management Association
2018 Conference
Parke Regency Hotel & Conference Center
Bloomington, IL
March 22-24, 2018
The Illinois Lakes Management Association is hosting its 33rd annual conference in 2018 in Bloomington, Illinois from March 22nd to March 23th (with workshops held on the 24th). We are looking to fill out our conference sessions with talks and presentations from professionals, teachers, students, or others with detailed knowledge on issues associated with lake, waterway, and watershed management.  Presentations should be approximately 20 minutes with time for questions following. Our conference sessions include the following topics:

– Managing Stormwater in Municipal Areas
– How Stormwater Impacts Water Quality in Lakes and Streams
– Planning Lake and Stream Restoration Projects
– Dam and Levee Safety, Management, and Permitting
– Fishery Production in Hyper-eutrophic Lakes
– How Land Use in Watersheds Affect Fish Populations
– Granting Implementation, Managing Projects from Inception to Close-out
– Principles of Hydrology
– Nutrient Cycling in Lakes
– Managing Lake Shorelines
– Promoting Sustainable Development
– Invasive Species Management

In addition to presentations, a poster session will be held on Thursday. If you are interested in either providing a poster or being a presenter, please submit abstracts by December 15 th , 2017. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words and be submitted [online] at or [emailed] to Bryan Cross at Audio and video will be provided by ILMA. Notification of abstract acceptance will be provided by ILMA no later than December 31 st .

ILMA Phragmites POD Upcoming

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) will be hosting another Point of Discussion (POD) at Emmett’s Ale House in Palatine, IL on November 9th at 7:00PM.  The phragmites issue in northeastern Illinois as well as areas throughout the midwest has become a critical issue.  This very destructive invasive will be reviewed and discussion will be led by Mr. Paul Bollinger of Bollinger Environmental, Inc. (BEI).  Paul has been in the environmental consulting field for over a decade and has liaised on projects for local and regional agencies.

FYI – The presentation has been uploaded to the Media Center as of 11/15/2017.

Join us for a lively discussion at Emmett’s and enjoy a few crafts brews.  Emmett’s Ale House is Located at:

110 North Brockway Street
Palatine, Illinois 60067

Phone: 847-359-1533


ILMA to begin survey process

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) is in a constant process of trying to better understand the needs of it constituency: lake managers & their associated groups, the lake-stakeholder decision making process, watershed group function, and ILMA’s role in an advisory capacity.  Although this is a role ILMA has provided since inception of the association, the course of these surveys is to drill down deeper into the overall cross section of lake & surface water users and dissect the results top to bottom.  This can help ILMA better understand and serve both individuals and groups with educational content from presentations, seminars and workshops.

Soliciting information is tough for any group.  Response rate for typical surveys is often less than 25% and can often be as low as 10% depending on the target audience.  At any rate, the information is necessary for ILMA to continually provide valuable information and determine who is receiving the information and how it is being used.

In 2014, the ILMA Board of Directors (Directors) attempted an open forum for discussion at their annual conference in DeKalb as an attempt to receive “fresh material” or ideas from attendees of the conference.  The forum constituted a session within the conference that could be attended by anyone at the conference including vendors and industry experts.  Upon an open request for topical input, ILMA direction, or general questions, a roomful of nearly 100 individuals ranging from lake and industry experts to general lake property owners, not one unprompted response was provided.  Because of this, it is uncertain that if such solicitation of information is best approached in isolated conditions or in smaller groups.

At this time ILMA will be focusing on reaching out to constituent groups such as those listed above; however an additional focus is warranted to better serve the total user base.  Most lake groups consist of members of varying education or participation levels.  Some are extremely dedicated, including those who have invested personal time to expand their understanding of the lake and watershed environment.  This person may often lead the group while the remain board or stakeholder membership may consist of local residents simply looking to lend a helping hand.  With this survey ILMA intends to extend into this secondary group and explore not only group leaders but the entirety of the membership that make up these groups.

Test survey groups will be explored later this month with representative pilot surveys and the results and surveys will be refined as the work progresses.  The initial surveys will likely be hand or email distributed to help improve effectiveness.  Subsequent delivery of surveys will very in presentation from what is suggested above to possible internet delivery.  Test Group 1A is the Tower Lakes Improvement Association (TLIA) and Bangs Lake Advisory Committee (BLAC) of Tower Lakes and Wauconda, respectively.

~p0sted by Admin

Lake Count WMB Grants Available

On September 12th, the Lake County Stormwater Management Comission (SMC) announced the availability of funding of another round of their Watershed Management Board (WNB) Grants.  These have been available on a yearly cycle.  The official announcement can be located here:

This grant cycle includes another round of their Watershed Management Assistance Grants (WMAG) routinely focused for capacity building of watershed protection groups.

The grants have a cost cap upwards of 20K and can be reduced downward from that value depending on the competition of other applicants and merit of the provided application.  One of the main objectives of these grants is to identify partnerships, so a good application should include a thorough investigation into who may all benefit from the project and an emphasis through letters of support when available.

The grants are separated by one of the four main watersheds identified in Lake County, Illinois; the Fox River, The Des Plaines River, the North Branch of the Chicago River, or Lake Michigan.  These grants are significant because they can defray costs of smaller projects; specifically those for schools, municipalities, or even individual property owners who typically have limited funds.  These are great for shoreline restoration and pond retrofits.

There is a much more thorough breakdown of the application process located on the link provided above.  Grant applications are due on the 6th of October and do require signature from a WMB representative identified in the submittal packet.

We hope to have a more complete Blog Post regarding grants later in the year.

Best of Luch from IllinoisLakes and the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA)!

~p0sted by Admin