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New Watershed Management Ordinance May Impact Your Next Project
New Watershed Management Ordinance May Impact Your Next Project

On May 1, 2014, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) will begin enforcement of the new Cook County Countywide Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO). According to MWRD’s website, the WMO establishes uniform, minimum, countywide stormwater management regulations throughout Cook County. Components which are regulated under the WMO include drainage and detention, volume control, floodplain management, isolated wetland protection, riparian environment protection, and soil erosion and sediment control. This entirely new ordinance will replace and subsequently supersede the existing 40-year-old Sewer Permit Ordinance (SPO), and could have significant effects on future development projects within Cook County. It will also supersede any municipal ordinances regulating stormwater management. It is important to note that while the new ordinance takes effect on May 1, some provisions will be phased over time and particular projects will be eligible for evaluation under the current SPO. So how will the new ordinance impact your next project?

A Watershed Management Permit will be required under similar circumstances as when a Sewer Permit is required under the current SPO, except that stormwater management measures will now be triggered for any development greater than half an acre. Stormwater management under the new WMO will generally consist of requirements in three categories:

  • Erosion and Sediment Control
  • Volume Control
  • Site Detention

The stormwater management requirements will generally be substantially greater under the new WMO than under the current SPO. In addition to stormwater management, the WMO also establishes the following requirements:

  • Standards for Qualified Sewer Construction
  • Regulations for Resource Protection Areas (floodplain, wetland, riparian), if applicable
  • Requirements for Permit Submittals, Record Drawings, and Recording
  • Requirements for Maintenance and Monitoring of Stormwater Management Facilities

Implementation of the new WMO Stormwater Management requirements will be phased.

  • All complete permit applications submitted to MWRD before May 1, 2014 will be evaluated under the current SPO.
  • Projects currently under design may request to be included on an Existing Development Plans List. Permit applications for projects on this list will be evaluated under the current SPO until May 1, 2015. Requests for inclusion on the Existing Development Plans List must include some form of preliminary approval from the local governing municipality, and should be submitted to the municipality, who will compile the list and submit to MWRD.
  • For the first five years after the WMO effective date (i.e. until May 1, 2019) all developments requiring Site Detention will be allowed a fixed release rate of 0.3 cfs/acre for a 100-year storm event using Bulletin 70 Rainfall Data.

MWRD recently began an outreach campaign, mainly through engineering professional societies to help create awareness about the upcoming changes. They hosted a number of training sessions, as the new rules take effect on May 1. Basic information on the WMO is available on MWRD’s website: http://www.mwrd.org/irj/portal/anonymous/managementordinance. However, we would be happy to discuss with you the specific details of this new Ordinance, and what impacts it may have on your operations in general, or on any specific projects you may be considering. Please contact John Fehlberg jfehlberg@primeraeng.com for more information.

New Watershed Management Ordinance May Impact Your Next Project

Primera provided drainage improvements for multiple bridge rehabilitation projects for the Illinois Department of Transportation's District 1 (pictured left).