The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District is responsible for water resources development in the Chicago metropolitan area, upper Illinois River watershed, Lake Michigan watershed in Wisconsin and the upper Wabash River watershed In Indiana – an area of about 31,500 square miles.
The District delivers vital engineering services through flood and coastal storm risk management, navigation, aquatic ecosystem restoration, regulatory, emergency management, recreation and interagency support services.
Since 1824, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems that include channels, harbors and waterways for movement of commerce, national security needs and recreation.
The Chicago District maintains 21 federal harbors including channels, coastal structures confined disposal facilities, and three locks, including the Chicago Lock, one of the busiest in the Nation.
Flood & Coastal Storm Risk Management
The Chicago District has extensive experience addressing flood and coastal storm damage in urban areas and can provide a wide range of planning and engineering services. Our experience ranges from small-scale studies to the construction of large-scale projects. The Corps partners with local communities and other non- Federal sponsors to help manage flood risk and coastal storm damage using both structural and non-structural solutions.
Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
The Chicago District delivers sustainable and innovative solutions for ecosystem protection, restoration and invasive species challenges by partnering with Federal, state, local and other stakeholders. Partnerships are instrumental in protecting existing significant ecological resources that are at risk.
Additionally, restoration activities are critical in restoring degraded aquatic ecosystem function, structure, and dynamic processes. The restoration intent is to partially or fully reestablish the attributes of a natural, self-regulating, functioning system.
The Regulatory Program is committed to Building Strong Since 1870 protecting the Nation’s aquatic resources and navigation capacity, while allowing reasonable development through fair and balanced decisions. The Corps evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in the Nation’s waters, including wetlands.
The Chicago District has jurisdictional authority under Section 10 of the River & Harbors Act for any work in, over, or under navigable waterways, and under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for any discharge of fill material into Waters of the United States to help ensure that environmental impacts on aquatic resources associated with these projects are avoided, minimized, and mitigated.
In the event of natural disasters such as flooding, emergency permit procedures can be activated to expedite permits to reduce further damage, and protect life and property.
During response operations, the Chicago District conducts emergency operations to save lives and protect improved properties including public facilities and residential/ commercial developments in accordance with Public Law 84-99. Assistance is supplemental to local and State efforts and is provided at the request of the governor.
Under technical assistance, subject matter experts can be deployed to the affected area to provide guidance on flood fight techniques, inspect existing flood protection projects and recommend corrective measures. Under direct assistance, materials to include sandbags and plastic sheeting can be provided to supplement local, and state supplies should they become exhausted. Temporary flood control measures can be constructed if beyond the capability of local interests and the State to perform in a timely manner.
Lakes & Recreation
Located in the heart of north-central Indiana, the Chicago District’s J. Edward Roush, Salamonie and Mississinewa lakes provide many opportunities for outdoor recreation including camping, boating, camping, swimming, hiking, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor recreation activities. J. Edward Roush Lake was named to honor retired U.S. Representative J. Edward Roush, who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the three lakes.
The three lakes manage flood risk in the Upper Wabash River Basin. They work as one unit and have saved $1.6 billion in flood damages since their construction in the 1960s. They have an annual total visitation of approximately 1.3 million with an estimated $36 million in visitor expenditures in the local community.
The Chicago District partners with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to manage the campgrounds, boat ramps, beaches and hunting areas.
International & Interagency Services
Supports non-Department of Defense federal agencies, state and local governments, tribal nations, and foreign governments by complementing their capabilities in the delivery of professional services and technical products.
Utilizing the talents of in-house District staff and regional and national experts from USACE laboratories and technical centers of expertise, assistance has varied from highly specific technical advice, to detailed planning and design documents, to complete program management services.
USACE have also functioned as extension of staff, often addressing issues that arise with inherently governmental functions associated with contract acquisitions and/or contractor oversight.