Chicago-Calumet River Watershed Council Grows with New Partners

A new boardwalk at Indian Ridge Marsh -South on Chicago's Southeast Side allows visitors to venture in to the marsh over an area that often floods.

The collaborative partnership to expand watershed-based stormwater management using multi-benefit nature-based solutions is growing with the addition of three new partners – the Cook County Department of the Environment, the Delta Institute, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Maximizing multiple ecological, social, and climate resiliency objectives across jurisdictional boundaries is the core work of the 19-member Watershed Council which was launched in 2020.

“Partnerships and collaboration is crucial to advance the many projects, efforts, and plans underway in the Calumet Region,” said Bill Schleizer, CEO of Delta Institute. “As one of many nonprofits advancing the health and wellbeing of our regional watersheds, Delta Institute was very excited to dive into the conversations that the Chicago-Calumet River Watershed Council is convening.”

Restoration improvements continue this spring at the first collaborative project launched by Friends and the Watershed Council at Indian Ridge Marsh – South on Chicago’s Southeast Side. This multi-benefit ecosystem restoration project serves as a model and catalyst for the Watershed Council’s collaborative approach. A historically neglected area of the Chicago River system, Indian Ridge Marsh - South is surrounded by disinvested communities and environmental justice areas which have long suffered from poor air quality, waterborne pollution, and community flooding. 

In partnership with the Chicago Park District and the Southeast Youth Alliance, and funded by the Walder Foundation, the project will restore the hemi-marsh wetland habitat with a variety of native plant communities to improve habitat for wildlife including mammals, fish, native reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, insects, and upland birds. The restoration project also expands the network of publicly accessible natural recreation areas and trails being developed in the Calumet region.