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Des Plaines River - Phase II


Water Resources Development Act 1999, Section 419

Project Description:

The Des Plaines River flows from southeast Wisconsin to northeast Illinois.  It is 67 miles long, flowing through 33 municipalities.  There is frequent flooding.  In 1986, the flood of record occurred and affected 15,000 residents, their dwellings and businesses, as well as the area’s transportation network. This study expands the area of concern from the mainstem in Illinois to include the entire Upper Des Plaines watershed, comprised of 15 tributaries in Illinois and Wisconsin.  In addition to flood risk management, the purpose of this study also includes ecosystem restoration, water quality and recreation features. There are over 43 municipalities in the watershed that contend with flood damages from the Des Plaines River and tributaries.  Recent flood events include May 2004, August 2007, September 2008 and December 2008, which resulted in significant flood damages and disaster declarations.  The Phase II study had three primary objectives: further reduction of main stem flooding; reduction of tributary flooding; and environmental restoration of degraded ecosystems within the basin.  The study considered sites located within tributary watersheds and along the main stem for both Flood Risk Management (FRM) and Ecosystem Restoration (ER) potential.  The effects of FRM sites within tributary watersheds on main stem flooding were also evaluated.

The Upper Des Plaines River and Tributaries, IL & WI Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment was released Sept. 3, 2013, for public comment and a Documentation of Changes was released for public comment Jan. 17, 2014.

The plans recommended by the study report propose the construction of levees, reservoirs and other features to reduce flood damages in the Upper Des Plaines River watershed.  If approved, the projects will reduce flood risk in communities across the watershed, providing approximately $6.8 million annual net economic benefits.


Total Project Cost:   $ 12,944,000
Federal Cost:   $ 6,713,000
Non-Federal Cost:   $ 6,231,000

Current Status:
The Upper Des Plaines River and Tributaries, IL and WI Feasibility Report and Integrated Environmental Assessment passed the Civil Works Review Board on May 20, 2014. Final Chief's Report has been transmitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA(CW)) for their review. Once it has passed those two reviews it is transmitted to Congress for possible authorization. We anticipate that Congress will receive the Chief's Report in late 2015.

Project Manager

Jeffrey Zuercher

Project Study Area

Click map to enlarge.