The North Branch Chicago River Watershed planning area covers 94 square miles (60,658 acres), with northern and southern boundaries roughly extending from Illinois Route 132 (Grand Avenue) in the City of Waukegan in Lake County south to Dempster Street in Morton Grove in Cook County. The watershed is made of up 25 municipalities, ten townships, four drainage districts and two wastewater treatment plants.
The North Branch Chicago River is formed from three tributary streams: the 17 mile Skokie River (or East Skokie), 24 mile Middle Fork (also known as the West Skokie), and the 14 mile West Fork.
From their origins in Lake County, these tributaries flow south into Cook County where they converge to form the main stem of the North Branch. The North Branch flows south through the Chicago River, South Branch, and Sanitary and Ship Canal to join with the Des Plaines River, which is a tributary of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
North Branch Chicago River mainstem (Cook County)
North Branch Chicago River Watershed-Based Plan Update
Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) is updating the 2008 Watershed-Based Plan for the North Branch Chicago River Watershed. Projects that improve water quality and are identified in watershed-based plans are eligible for grant funding through the Clean Water Act. SMC led development of the North Branch Chicago River Watershed-Based Plan in 2008 and this 10-year update maintains consistency with Illinois EPA and Clean Water Act guidance.
In February 2022, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission submitted a draft of the North Branch Chicago River Watershed-Based Plan to the Illinois EPA for their review and comments. Please see the draft chapters, appendices and executive summary below.
Funding for this project is provided, in part, by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.