Cook County Gains Critical Ordinance for Stormwater Management

The Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago voted Thursday, October 3 to adopt the Cook County Watershed Management Ordinance, establishing key regulations to minimize the negative impacts of stormwater runoff to downstream environments and communities.

The Ordinance is a critical set of safeguards to abate the consequences of development on flooding and water quality throughout the county.   With intensifying storm events and land development that can’t soak up rain and melting snow, Cook County citizens have faced increasing hardships associated with flooding in recent years.  The Watershed Management Ordinance will help keep basements dry and rivers cleaner by requiring developers to properly manage stormwater through storage and volume control measures, among other best management practices.

Uncontrolled stormwater runoff is obviously a major threat to homes, businesses, and public safety, but also has harmed wetlands, water quality, and riparian habitats.  By requiring buffers on waterways, minimizing floodplain development, and protecting wetlands, the Ordinance will significantly reduce harmful side effects of storm events.  The incorporation of green infrastructure practices as a means to retain stormwater is another key accomplishment in reducing impervious surface and protecting our environment.

Sierra Club served on MWRD’s Public and Private Organization Advisory Committee that worked for years to develop the Ordinance, and we are especially pleased to see the collaborative efforts of the MWRD and community members come to fruition in these protections.   We also want to thank all the citizens of Cook County who spoke out in favor of strong protections at different stages of this process – your voices were heard and today we can all celebrate a victory for our communities and our waterways.

Thank you for your support!


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