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

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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:

https://ilma-lakes.org/conference

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.

https://i1.wp.com/chesapeakestormwater.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/swale_checkdam.jpg

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.

boy_scout_drain_stencil_16th_wash__9_24_11

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 http://www.ilma-lakes.org/call-for-presenters or [emailed] to Bryan Cross at bcross@prairieengineers.com. 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

https://www.emmettsbrewingco.com/

 

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:

https://www.lakecountyil.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=923

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

Watershed Spotlight: 9 Lakes Watershed (Lake & McHenry Co., IL)

Welcome to our first watershed spotlight Blog post!  I would first like to do a shout out to the recently retired Patty Werner of the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (LCSMC).  Her enduring watershed work in Lake County, IL has had a lasting impression far beyond the county borders and has greatly influenced many of us to work harder will limited resources and really push to improve the stakeholder process.  The IllinoisLakes Blog wishes her the best in her retirement.

With the IllinoisLakes Blog being an outreach component tool of the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA), there will always be a focus on lakes directly; however our lakes our driven by the landscape processes within the watershed which is also a key concern of ILMA.  What happens in the lakes of Illinois and any other lake on the face of our planet is heavily driven by what is happening in the watershed.  Some of these things are taking place right at the shoreline and some miles away.  The end result is that the lake is the basket that catches it all, holds it or modifies it, and then sends it downstream.

While a brief introduction to the watershed concept may be in order here, it is not the sole directive of this blog post and for clarity we may need to do a follow up post to close that loophole.  In the meantime we suggest a 90 second primer here.  Simple youtube video distilling the concept.  We ultimately see the watershed byproducts in our lakes and managing the end result in the lake, so why not control the source?  More on that later.

On to the 9 Lakes Watershed, a culmination of the 9 Lakes Watershed Plan.  The watershed group originally sprung from the formation of the 4 Lakes Initiative, a meeting of local lake groups forming to discuss watershed approaches which have significant impacts on in-lake processes.  The group had been meeting for nearly two years, when a chance meeting with representatives of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) at a presentation provided to the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP), met and discussed a partnership to include the totality of 9 lakes bordering on common watersheds in western Lake/eastern McHenry County.  We apologize for the numerous acronyms and links above.

As the name suggests, the ground-floor stakeholder group consists of 9 lakes (Lake Fairview, Slocum Lake, Bangs Lake, Lake Napa Suwe, Tower Lakes, Lake Barrington, Timber Lake, Island Lake, and Woodland Lake).  The planning process also includes all the interconnected waterways such as creeks and streams and the three outlets to the Fox River.  Each of these groups has faced unique challenges in maintaining their perspective lakes, none necessarily more important than the other.  The planning group also includes all of the perspective communities and agencies that have a collective geographic presence within the watershed.  Villages include Island Lake, Wauconda, Port Barrington, Volo, Hawthorn Woods, Lake Barrington, Tower Lakes, and Unincorporated portions of Lake and McHenry Counties, IL.

The two year extended planning process took place from 2012 through 2014 including a series of formal presentations, facility and lake tours, stakeholder collaboration to identify potential in-lake and watershed landscape issues to be indoctrinated within the 9 Lakes Watershed-Based Plan.  Identifying projects within the watershed plan prioritizes them for EPA funding through the Agency’s 319 Program.  The identified projects can all be seen on the map provided on the 4 Lakes Initiative homepage (previously linked).  The projects range from topics such as shoreline restoration, streambank stabilization, landscape improvements, green infrastructure, and stormwater retrofits to name a few.

The plan also does a token job at identifying the sources of in-lake pollution, be it internal cycling of materials or landscape driven sources.  For example, several of the lakes within the planning area have identified phosphorus as a significant pollutant source (often referred to as “impairment”) within the 9 Lakes Watershed-Based Plan.  Now is the problem already in the lake and needs to be addressed in the lake or is it a landscape based issue that needs to be addressed from a runoff standpoint?  Is it unwise to spend money on in-lake improvements for phosphorus abatement if the source is coming from outside the lake.  These are important factors when the solutions are not cheap.  Phosphorus is just one example of several potential impairments listed within the plan.

The plan also makes an attempt to prioritize these objectives.  Not every project benefits the watershed or inherent downstream water resources in the same way.  Projects most likely to get funded include those which identify multiple partners and entities that will benefit from a successful outcome.  This includes identifying how those partners will continue to manage and maintain the outcome of the project in the future to make sure there is a lasting benefit.

What types of projects were identified in the plans?  Section 3.2 of the plan provides a breakdown of projects by both water body and municipal entity, making it easier to identify potential partners in pursuing a grant based project.  While it can be a great adventure to pursue a grant on your own, it may be worth it to contact someone with experience to make the process a little more streamlined and move the process along, including the documentation process, meeting the timelines and helping identify potential partners from the start.

There are numerous restoration based projects identified within the plan directly tied to shorelines and streambanks.  While their are other in-lake projects identified, it may become increasingly difficult smaller projects without being able to quantify the aggregate benefit.

Slocum Lake is one lake previously discussed within the IllinoisLakes Blog.  We hope to feature some of the other lakes in the near future.  No one lake is perfect, although some exhibit many more water quality related issues than others.  Bangs Lake is the only lake that provides public access.  Some of the lakes may be accessible if you are willing to make the appropriate contacts.

The overarching them to the watershed plan is essentially outreach & education.  Providing citizens and stakeholders and opportunity to voice their opinion (good & bad) and provide educational components in an unimposing and digestible environment.  Watershed planning is somewhat universally similar in the methodology employed to complete each individual plan however the water bodies differ and therefore the road map created in each plan is different.  The template that the road map is created from has been set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is somewhat specific to Illinois, although the format is slowly becoming indoctrinated nationally.

The 9 Lakes Watershed-Based Plan is unique in several ways.  If you compare it to the bulk of many other watershed plans in Lake County or Northeast Illinois, their is a specific focus on lakes, whereas this is typically a stream or creek in-focus.  Additionally there are 3 specific outfall points into the Fox River from each of 3 connected lake to lake systems.  Timber Lake, Tower Lakes, and Lake Barrington represent one system.  Bangs Lake and Slocum Lake represent yet another system, and yet Lake Napa Suwe and Island Lake represent another independent system.  The other remaining lakes are small and interspersed among those three systems.

Specific to a plan of this nature, the watersheds are acknowledged as a whole, but also as independent water bodies (lakes) that have identified improvement projects built into the plan as well.  We recommend that if you have never been part of the process or seen a planning document of this nature, start with the Executive Summary and introduction to get a grasp of the bigger picture before diving in.  We hope to have an introductory Blog Post regarding Watershed Planning in general soon.

~p0sted by Admin 

10 Things You Can Do to Know Your Lake Better

It is important that we step back and consider the group of individuals that are on the fence when it comes to lakes.  There is obviously a dedicated group of individuals that help care for and are directly connected to the management of a water body, but many individuals who are lake or stream side property holders or enthusiasts either feel disengaged or not intelligent enough to become actively engaged with day to day activities.  At the Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA), our primary sponsor of the IllinoisLakes Blog we feel “the more the merrier”.

In the context of the title “your lake” it may reference a body of water you currently live on, frequent, or may mean several lakes.  Getting engaged IS important as it helps set directives for your organization and may help them better allocate future funding.  In the case of public or quasi-public lakes it may have the ability to influence outside funding sources.  Perhaps the list below can be used to help assist in influencing involvement as well or better manage overall.  Without further ado:

  1. Seek out your lake management association if you have one 🙂 – to some this is great place to start.  Some groups operate better than others, but observing the initial input and back and forth conversation will allow you to better understand what issues are involved in the overall management of the lake and where your piece of the pie might fit in.
  2. Enjoy some simple ecology.  The water is the source of all life and habitat to so many different species from plants to insects, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.  So many of these things rely on each other to survive, it will make you think twice about reducing shoreline habitat to bulkheads and seawalls which support places for various young fish and other insects to forage.
  3. Find the lake gage.  Hydrology impacts how the lake or water body elevations fluctuate from time to time.  Seeing how the water responds to certain amounts of rainfall is fun.  Precipitation is needed to move stagnant water around from time to time (affecting residence time), so it is an important element in the success of the lake or waterbody.
  4. Get to know the “ins and outs” of the system, literally.  People tend to see these areas as trouble areas but they are extremely useful indicators for monitoring conditions.  If the water coming into the lake is “dirtier” than the water leaving your lake then your lake is soaking up the difference.  If it’s the other way around than you may have an internal cycling problem.  Simple observations can mean a lot.  How to do this with minimal cost may be a future topic of discussion.
  5. Search for documentation regarding your lake.  What seems somewhat tedious in the world of lake management is the oblivious nature at which people base their decisions.  The year is 2017 and there is much more literature out there about lakes and most likely something about your lake!  The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has been under mandate by the Clean Water Act (CWA) to study the watersheds draining to the majority of our streams and lakes and as such has already started a dialogue.  Those of you living in Lake County are likely aware of the fantastic background work completed by the Health Department’s Lake Management Unit.  There are other sources out there in the form of watershed plans as well.  These may all identify issues that can further help you understand your lake.
  6. Have a cold one.  So many of us ignore the lake once the ice cap goes on but there are observations to be made during the winter and colder months as well.  Some trouble areas can be more visible once the vegetation dies back.  This is a great time to do some ground truthing.
  7. Eye in the sky.  If you’ve never taken a detailed look at the area around your lake via aerial photography it’s worth a look.  Looking at various land use and road patterns may lead you to questions as to “how much chloride is coming of that road?”  “Is that a problem?”
  8. Where do those pipes come from?  Many people see water draining from phantom pipes into the lake or stream and think nothing of it.  These pipes serve a purpose and that is to drain water away from somewhere else and keep people reasonably safe from flooding.  The unintended consequence however is that materials other than water comes along for the ride.
  9. Learn the difference between algae and plants.  Reason:  While some animals do consume algae, having it in your lake is usually an indicator of something that is above it natural range.  A little algae is certainly normal but with today’s concerns over potentially harmful algae strains it is time to start reconsidering why the algae may be there in the first place.
  10. Look at the plants in your lake.  Get to know them.  The terms native and invasive are important to know.  If your lake is encumbered by large amounts of invasive species it can be tough for the native species to compete.  The invasive plants have limited end users and by displacing native species they complicate the food web for fish, amphibians, and invertebrates.

~p0sted by Admin