Institutional barriers, from the separation of different policy sectors to disconnected decision making across jurisdictions, hinder the region’s ability to sustainably manage water resources. As a result, water resources are often managed in isolation, missing opportunities for more cost-effective, integrated solutions. At the local level, many communities have separate entities managing water supply, stormwater, and wastewater, each with its own governance structure and mission, with limited connection to land use and transportation planning functions. Additional details about shared services and intergovernmental coordination are in the Governance chapter.

There are many ways to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination of efforts related to flood mitigation, wastewater, water quality, water supply, and aquatic habitats. Better data collection and analysis regarding the condition of our water resources are an important foundation for integrated water resource management and performance-based decision making based on scientific evidence. Updating federal programs is a long-term goal, but the region and state can take more immediate actions to improve coordination and decision making. State and local agencies are seeking such opportunities, including cross-jurisdictional efforts to advance the state’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous 45 percent by 2015, and new approaches to finance stormwater management projects, including updates to the State Revolving Fund. A comprehensive water planning agenda and funding program at the state level could improve coordination of water resource management efforts.

Action 1

Develop a comprehensive water planning agenda and increase funding levels to fully support programs that integrate water supply, water quality, stormwater, and aquatic habitat objectives.

Implementers

The state

Action 2

Support and coordinate data collection, tracking, and research among various agencies, including the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), Illinois State Water Survey (ISGS), Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), watershed working groups, and other watershed organizations.

Implementers

The state

Action 3

Increase the number of streams surveyed and rated, and work with partners to develop a region-wide index for assessing the quality of headwater streams.

Implementers

IDNR and IEPA, in partnership with more local and regional organizations

Action 4

Provide funding for CMAP to prepare an integrated water resource management plan for the region, addressing water quality, water supply, and stormwater management, including a focus on natural areas and green infrastructure, and providing a framework for enhancing coordination and establishing priorities for the region.

Implementers

IDNR and IEPA

Action 5

Coordinate a cross-jurisdictional platform to engage local governments, conservation organizations, and community water resource managers to advance integrated, innovative, and watershed-based management across sectors and agencies.{{ American Planning Association, “American Planning Association Policy Guide on Water,” July 2016, https://www.planning.org/policy/guides/adopted/water/.}}

Implementers

CMAP and partners

Action 6

Explore the use of transfers, credits, and water quality and volume trading programs to achieve regional water resource goals.

Implementers

CMAP and partners

Action 7

Collaborate to ensure that efforts are solving priority watershed challenges and not working at cross-purposes.

Implementers

Local watershed entities

Action 8

Advance stormwater management reform to better address non-point source pollution and flooding (see Reduce flood risk to protect people and assets recommendation.)

Implementers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and federal partners