US Army Corps of Engineers
Chicago District Website

Bubbly Creek

Welcome to the Chicago District's web site for the Bubbly Creek Project, also known as South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River Feasibility Study. The feasibility study will look at opportunities to restore the creek under the Corps' ecosystem restoration mission. The local sponsor for the project is the City of Chicago.

AUTHORITY:
General Investigations, resolution by the Senate Committee on Energy and Public Works adopted 20 July 2005.

DESCRIPTION:
The South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River is a 6,600-foot channel that begins near 38th Street at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s Racine Avenue pump station and flows north to the South Branch of the Chicago River. The study area lies within the City of Chicago, Cook County, Ill. As the area was industrialized, the creek was channeled to facilitate drainage. Prior to modern waste management practices, sanitary sewage, industrial waste, and animal waste from the adjacent Union Stockyards were disposed in the creek for conveyance downstream. The organic material from the stockyards remaining at the bottom of the creek still generates bubbles that have earned the South Fork the nickname "Bubbly Creek."

Problems to be addressed by the proposed project include stream channelization, poor quality sediment that supports tolerant and invasive aquatic life, lack of in-stream and riparian habitat, and lack of diverse native aquatic and riparian plant communities. Features of the proposed project include restoration of 40 acres including 30.7 acres of substrate restoration, 9.3 acres of riparian plant restoration, 1 acre of emergent plant restoration, 3.3 acres of submergent plant restoration and woody debris restoration at 10 locations within the channel.

FEASIBILITY STUDY COSTS:

Total Project Cost:

  $ 2,650,000

Federal Cost:

  $ 1,325,000

Non-federal Cost:

  $ 1,325,000

RECOMMENDED PROJECT COST:

Total Project Costs:

 $17,934,000

Federal Cost:

 $11,657,000

Non-federal Cost:

 $6,277,000

STATUS:   

In April 2015 the Army Corps released for public comment the "Bubbly Creek, South Branch of the Chicago River, Illinois, Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment." The draft report provided a recommendation for an ecosystem restoration project for Bubbly Creek. One of the comments received from the public alerted the study team to remediation efforts at former manufactured gas plants adjacent to Bubbly Creek and the South Branch Chicago River waterways. Army Corps policy required the study to be suspended until after the completion of remediation activities.  As of 2019, the remediation activities have been concluded in the study area and study activities have resumed. The study report was finalized recommending restoration of Bubbly and the Chiefs Report was signed on July 9, 2020 with the intent to forward to congress for possible authorization and funding. The Chiefs Report identifies that implementation of the recommended plan requires that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the non­federal sponsor receive protection from liability claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601, et seq. Therefore, CERCLA liability protection would have to be legislated prior to implementation of the proposed NER plan. The final report and appendices are available at the link to the right.

Project Manager

Michael Padilla

Project Area

Click map to enlarge.

Documents