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  3. Division of Planning

Division of Planning 

OWR is an active sponsor, along with other regional and local agencies, of floodwater management plans developed with NRCS, MWRD , and Corps of Engineers assistance. Sponsor responsibilities include land acquisition needed for the structural measures and implementation of various non-structural programs and project operations and maintenance.  OWR participates in Federal programs within the legal authority of State Statutes.   


Flood Control Planning

The Flood Control Act of 1945, 615 ILCS 15, gives the Office of Water Resources (OWR) legal authority to participate in the improvement of the rivers of the State for the purpose of regulating and controlling flood and low-water flows. Criteria followed by the Office relating to flood control planning include:


1)  Assurance that the most severely damaged areas receive priority consideration and assistance from State and Federal sources.

2)  State water resource projects be designed to maximize economic efficiency at minimal environmental impact.

3)  State expenditures result in the maximum benefits for the least possible cost.

4)  Local interest and investment of funds be required as evidence of involvement in any project. OWR, through its regular flood control program and in cooperation with local governmental sponsors, has provided over 5350 acre-feet of floodwater storage in eleven reservoirs, as well as improved channels at numerous locations throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area.

 

OWR, through its regular flood control program and in cooperation with local governmental sponsors, has provided over 5350 acre-feet of floodwater storage in eleven reservoirs, as well as improved channels at numerous locations throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area. 

OWR provides funding through its Small Projects Program to alleviate smaller, more easily solvable flood problems. Maximum OWR funding is currently $75,000 per Small Project. Additionally, OWR provides study/project support through field activities including the operation of a modernized water resources data collection network and the acquisition of field survey data.

OWR participates in Federal programs within the legal authority of State Statutes. OWR is an active sponsor, along with other regional and local agencies, of floodwater management plans developed with NRCS, MWRD , and Corps of Engineers assistance. Sponsor responsibilities include land acquisition needed for the structural measures and implementation of various non-structural programs and project operations and maintenance.

In addition to its normal functions, the Division of Planning gathers water resource data prior, during and following a flood or other disaster. This data is assembled and disseminated to various state and local agencies. Representatives of the Division act as the Technical Liason to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and provide daily briefings on flood conditions of monitored streams throughout the state and its boundary waters. In cooperation with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a summary sheet of river stage information is provided here. 

OWR conducts hydrologic and hydraulic studies and investigations relating to urban flood control and water resource problems throughout the state, prepares economic analyses and reports outlining recommended mitigation or construction projects for legislative consideration and funding. In addition to its normal functions, the Division of Planning gathers water resource data prior, during and following a flood or other disaster. This data is assembled and disseminated to various state and local agencies. Representatives of the Division act as the Technical Liason to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and provide daily briefings on flood conditions of monitored streams throughout the state and its boundary waters. In cooperation with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a summary sheet of river stage information is provided here.

OWR provides funding through its Small Projects Program to alleviate smaller, more easily solvable flood problems. Maximum OWR funding is currently $75,000 per Small Project. Additionally, OWR provides study/project support through field activities including the operation of a modernized water resources data collection network and the acquisition of field survey data. OWR participates in Federal programs within the legal authority of State Statutes. OWR is an active sponsor, along with other regional and local agencies, of floodwater management plans developed with NRCS, MWRD , and Corps of Engineers assistance. Sponsor responsibilities include land acquisition needed for the structural measures and implementation of various non-structural programs and project operations and maintenance.

 

Urban Flood Control Assistance Programs


The Office of Water Resources (OWR) receives many requests for assistance to solve urban flooding and other related water resources problems, each of which leads to some category of study or action.  Requests for assistance are routed to the Division of Planning.   Requests are received either in writing or verbally from a variety of sources, including local citizens and officials from local, State, and Federal levels of government. An investigation is made on each request, and the most efficient and cost effective approach to each solution is selected. The solution to a flood problem can generally be addressed by a private individual or some governmental entity. If the solution is within OWR's authority and capability, a course of action is taken based on the following parameters:


     1) magnitude of the problem,

     2) responsibilities of the various parties involved,

     3) potential feasible solution, and

     4) most expeditious solution to the problem.

 

Technical Advice and Referral


OWR reviews each request for assistance to determine if OWR has authority to respond in specific areas. An initial determination may be made that a particular flood problem is beyond the scope of OWR programs (not an urban problem or too expensive) and it may be referred to a more appropriate agency (Corps of Engineers, Natural Resources Conservation Soil Service, etc.). If the problem is related to some type of erosion process for instance, it is generally considered the responsibility of the property owner. In such a case, technical advice is provided to the owner to resolve the problem, and where applicable, assistance is requested from the Natural Resources Conservation Service . 

If the problem involves property or improvements constructed by other state agencies, the problem is referred to those agencies. However, OWR is frequently requested to provide technical assistance to those agencies to solve the problem or produce a multipurpose project to meet both agencies needs.

If the problem is generated as a result of construction activity by a private individual, the solution may be referred to the OWR?s Permit Section for enforcement action.   An OWR permit is required for work on Illinois streams if the drainage area at the proposed work is greater than 1 sq. mi. in urban/urbanizing areas, or 10 sq. mi. in rural areas, or if a mapped floodway exists at the project site.

 

Study Process


When a request for assistance is received relative to a severe flood problem, it may be addressed through a study process which begins with an initial feasibility determination based on preliminary estimates of flood damages and potential solutions. This preliminary investigation may be in the form of a Reconnaissance Study in which pertinent, available flood data is collected to determine whether or not a Strategic Planning Study is warranted. A Strategic Planning Study can take twelve months or longer to complete and provides an accurate prediction of flood damages and alternative solutions to the flood problem, including average annual benefits and costs associated with each alternative. OWR authority generally requires a favorable Benefit/Cost Ratio (B/C ratio equal or greater than 1.0) to proceed to a Project Planning Study and construction as a total State project. Strategic Planning Studies are performed inhouse, by consultants, or by cost sharing/coordination with other governmental agencies or entities.

Project Planning Studies are performed in the next phase of the study process. This phase is initiated if the local entity requesting assistance is willing to be a local sponsor for a selected alternative. Project Planning Studies are more detailed engineering design studies and are only performed for projects scheduled to be constructed as OWR projects. Environmental reviews and approvals as well as necessary permits are usually secured in this phase of the planning process. Plans, specifications, permits and appropriation of funds, which follow the Project Planning Study phase, are the final steps required to bring projects to the construction phase. 

 

Small Projects


In some cases a solution to a flood problem is readily at hand and a preliminary investigation indicates the potential for a feasible and inexpensive project exists. In such a case, the actual cost of constructing the improvement does not warrant the expense associated with the formal study process (Reconnaissance Study, Strategic Planning Study, Project Planning Study, etc.). Therefore, the project is built with minimum studies and the time interval between the request for assistance and actual construction can be reduced. However, necessary permits and environmental clearances must still be obtained.

This program provides direct assistance to rural and smaller urban communities statewide to reduce stormwater related flood damages by alleviating localized, significant drainage and flood problems. The program relies on cooperative utilization of local resources and is limited to $75,000 of Water Resources funds at a single locality.

 

Stream Preservation Program


OWR assumed responsibility for the development of a stream preservation program as a part of the non-structural program of the Chicago Metropolitan River Basin Plans.

Stream Preservation refers to the management of a stream's conveyance capacity and can include natural channels and environmental enhancements.

It includes the following goals and objectives:


     1) Keep debris, sediment, and restrictive vegetation out of rivers and streams.

     2) Convey floodwater safely through each community.

     3) Assure that flood control structural measures will perform as planned by maintaining unobstructed inflows and outflows.

     4) Provide for annual inspection and maintenance of the key rivers and streams in each watershed.

     5) Encourage each community to assume responsibility for maintenance of the stream portion within its jurisdiction.

     6) Provide assistance and advice to communities and other regional agencies when needed.

     7) Encourage environmental awareness of the general public.

 

The program has been implemented and coordinated through various watershed steering committees.

For more information, see Programs