Lake Michigan and its interconnected system of lakes and tributaries — the most significant water resources in our region — face unique challenges. Our location on the Lake Michigan shoreline demands collective action to maintain and enhance the health of our region’s main water source and help the state meets its commitments to national and international partners. IDNR should continue to strategically manage the lake, which currently endures significant pollution from urban, agricultural, and industrial sources. Strategies for addressing these challenges include improving stormwater management, reducing combined sewer overflows, cleaning up polluted lands and harbors, and better managing industrial discharges to the lake and its tributaries. Our state’s nearshore and shoreline habitat exists entirely within the Chicago metropolitan region{{The Chiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain, the coastline from Kenosha to Waukegan Harbor, has been designated as a wetland system of international importance () by RAMSAR, the Convention on Wetlands intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Ramsar Sites Information Service, “Chiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain,” 2015,}} and is degraded, fragmented, and affected by dynamic lake levels and a changing shoreline, which can affect infrastructure, shipping, property, recreational resources, and sensitive ecosystems. Preventing the introduction of additional aquatic invasive species, which have already affected the lake’s natural ecology and native species dynamics, should be a high priority. The region should be engaged in solutions that help protect the Great Lakes from Asian Carp and other such species while also maintaining the services currently provided by the Chicago area’s rivers and streams including the Chicago and Calumet Rivers, and the North Shore, Cal-Sag, and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canals. The “Our Great Rivers” initiative is intended to focus attention and investment on improving these legacy resources, and the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study focused on the interaction between these water systems, should be implemented.{{Great Rivers Chicago, “Great Rivers Chicago,” 2018,}}

Action 1

Continue to explore solutions to manage, enhance, and provide access to the Chicago area’s rivers and streams.{{ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Chicago Area Waterway System / Chicago River,” 2017,}}


CMAP, United States Army Corps of Engineers, IDNR, MWRD, Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago Community Trust, and other stakeholders

Action 2

Continue to fund investments that maintain the health, recreational use, and economic benefits of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes, such as the Great Lake Restoration Initiative, the Coastal Zone Management program, the Water Resources Development Act,{{ Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, “Great Lakes Restoration,” n.d., Accessed May 30, 2018. NOAA Office for Coastal Management, “The National Coastal Zone Management Program,” 2016,; National Wildlife Federation, “Water Resources Development Act,” n.d., Accessed May 30, 2018.}} and efforts to prevent invasive species transfer.



Action 3

Increase efforts to focus and coordinate high-priority coastal issues, such as protecting shorelines and coastal infrastructure, supporting resource-compatible recreational activities and access to Lake Michigan, and restoring natural resources.


CMAP, IDNR Coastal Management Program, Chicago, and coastal communities and landowners

Action 4

Work together to protect and restore coastal nearshore and shoreline aquatic and terrestrial habitat, ravines, and migratory flyways.


IDNR, Chicago and other local governments, and coastal landowners

Action 5

Work with regional partners to implement or incorporate the Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan update into local planning efforts.



Action 6

Continue to reduce stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows into Lake Michigan and the region’s waterways.


Lake County stormwater managers, MWRD, and other wastewater managers