DuPage River Watershed

Dupage river watershed

From the tiny creek running through your neighborhood to the mighty rivers that define the towns along their banks, we’re working in the water, on the streets and around the conference table to improve the health of rivers and streams in northeastern Illinois. Click the links below to find out more about specific waterways and projects. 

Adopt A Stream

We all know clean water is a fundamental human need. But local water resources need our help to stay clean. Join the new DuPage County Adopt-a-Stream program and give some love to a stream in need.

Program basics

stream for two years and should engage in two stream cleanups each year. You may, of course, choose to go beyond the minimum requirements by regularly monitoring water quality, recording illicit discharge or engaging in restoration. 

Trash pokers, gloves, trash bags and trash removal are supplied. The County of DuPage provides recognition for groups that fulfill Adopt-A-Stream program requirements. Upon successful completion, the County will furnish and post signs with the Volunteer Group’s name along that group’s adopted stream, or section thereof.

Participants in Adopt-A-Stream are encouraged to utilize DuPage River Sweep, a mid-May stream clean-up, as one of their two clean-up dates. Groups who cannot fulfill the minimum requirements but would still like to be involved may choose to participate in a one-time volunteer activity.
Volunteers must be at least eighteen (18) years of age unless approved by a guardian. Volunteers under (18) years of age must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. At least one adult chaperone for every 5 Volunteers under (18) years of age is required.

Dupage river sweep

The annual DuPage County River Sweep is a county-wide self-coordinated stream cleanup and restoration event.

The purpose of the River Sweep is to encourage volunteers to help “sweep our rivers clean” by picking up debris in and along the local waterways and restoring nearby land back to its natural state.

The skies were overcast for the 2018 River Sweep but that didn’t keep 800 volunteers from showing up to help clean up the DuPage River and its tributaries!  This robust group helped remove approximately 9 tons of debris from these waterways and over 61 miles of shoreline were cleared of trash.  The treasures found in and along the river have varied widely over the Sweep’s 25+ year history, including bicycles, car parts and tires (and once an entire car), seat cushions, lawn chairs, milk crates, a custom golf bag, fencing, ladders, building materials, toilets, refrigerators and other appliances, mattresses, soccer, beach and tennis balls and many other things.

Storm Drain Stenciling

Sometimes a simple reminder is all we need to help us do the right thing. That’s the premise behind storm drain stenciling. Volunteers stencil Dump No Waste – Drains to River on storm drains in the hopes that seeing this message will make people a little more careful about what they allow to enter their storm drains.

Why is Storm Drain Stenciling Important?

Many people think that water pollution is caused by big business or large government facilities – places with pipes leading into the river. These are known as “point source” polluters. However, in recent years these sources have greatly reduced their negative impact on water quality. As a result, storm water runoff is now one of the leading causes of surface water pollution in DuPage County, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The Storm Drain Stenciling program has been active in DuPage County since 1992, but stencils wear off and have to be re-stenciled regularly. 

Who Can Participate?

Families: Storm Drain Stenciling is a great family outing that teaches community involvement and helps the natural environment.

Homeowner Associations: Stenciling the storm drains in your subdivision can help protect nearby rivers, creeks and ponds that you and your neighbors enjoy.

School Groups: Classrooms, Student Clubs and Teams can stencil the storm drains near their school as part of a water cycle unit or a fundraising project.

Scouting Groups: Boy and Girl Scouts, Indian Guides and Indian Princesses can do Storm Drain Stenciling with their group as a service project.

Church Groups: Stewardship is made simple, fun and flexible through stenciling and it can be done for service days throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.

Service Organizations: Storm Drain Stenciling is great for Kiwanis, Rotary, Garden, Women’s, Men’s and other clubs looking for community service projects.

Corporate Outings: Companies who are looking to extend a helping hand with a fun bonding experience can do so on their own schedule. No group is too large or too small for stenciling.

Supporting Municipalities in DuPage County

Approvals from the following municipalities have been confirmed by The Conservation Foundation.  If your municipality is not listed, we will be happy to work with you to get approval in your area.

  • Addison
  • Bartlett
  • Bloomingdale
  • Bolingbrook
  • Carol Stream
  • Downers Grove
  • Downers Grove Township
  • Elmhurst
  • Glen Ellyn     
  • Glendale Heights
  • Hanover Park
  • Itasca
  • Lisle
  • Lombard
  • Naperville
  • Naperville Township
  • Roselle
  • Villa Park   
  • Warrenville
  • Wayne Township
  • West Chicago
  • Westmont
  • Wheaton
  • Winfield
  • Winfield Township
  • Woodridge
  • York Township

Salt Creek Workgroup

The DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup (DRSCW) started with a conversation amongst three people in 2004.  Everything big starts small – and you never know how a simple conversation might change the world!

DuPage River/Salt Creek Work Group

The DRSCW is a collaboration of municipalities, wastewater treatment facilities and conservation organizations seeking to implement targeted watershed activities that resolve waterway problems in the DuPage River and Salt Creek efficiently and in a cost-effective way. 

In 2004, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued a report on the quality of our area streams that called for significant expenditures by our local wastewater treatment plants.   Not only were the costs overwhelming, most local experts felt they wouldn’t really have much impact in improving the quality of our streams.  Three local wastewater treatment plant managers had the idea to form a local watershed group to brainstorm other ways to address local stream quality concerns, and they decided to name it after those streams – the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup was formed. 

When the workgroup was formed, its leaders creatively decided to contract with The Conservation Foundation to provide staff to the workgroup who could facilitate its efforts and communicate effectively with all of the different partners involved.  Stephen McCracken and Deanna Doohaluk on our staff, both water quality scientists, spend their time managing the DRSCW using an approach called Local Watershed Management, which combines long term water quality monitoring with the development and implementation of projects to remediate issues present in the two watersheds.  Wastewater treatment plants pay dues to the Workgroup that are a fraction of the cost that the EPA’s 2004 report recommendations would have been, and the impact to the streams will be much greater.

The DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup has been identified nationwide as a model of water quality management and workgroup formation. 

Lower Dupage river
watershed coalition

The Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition formed in 2012 to provide a local, coordinated effort to address water resource concerns using a science based approach to identify water quality stressors and develop ecologically and economically sound approaches to restore stream health.

The Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition was formed in 2012 after The Conservation Foundation completed a grant-funded watershed management plan. The Foundation is active in the Coalition in two ways – one as a member bringing our outreach and networking expertise to the table and second through a service contract to provide technical and support staffing. This unique relationship provides benefits to both organizations and results in more clean and healthy streams.

The Conservation Foundation provides staffing services to the Coalition and assists with overseeing the Bioassessment Program, education & outreach and coordinating implementation efforts. The watershed is located mostly in Will County, although it includes portions of DuPage, Grundy and Kendall Counties and includes the municipalities of Naperville, Plainfield, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Joliet, Minooka, Crest Hill, Rockdale, Shorewood and Channahon.

Click here to learn more about the Lower DuPage River Watershed and how you can get involved. Or click here to learn more about The Conservation Foundation’s work in Will County.

Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition Activities:

  • Long-term monitoring program collecting fish, bug, habitat and chemistry data at 42 stations to assess stream health
  • Using scientific data to guide resource management activities
  • Stream restoration projects
  • Seasonal outreach campaigns
  • Assisting municipalities to meet regulatory requirements
  • Salt Smart Collaborative Partner