The Buffalo Creek Reservoir Expansion Project will increase storage capacity to alleviate flooding for downstream communities, while at the same time improve public recreation spaces at Buffalo Creek in the Lake County Forest Preserves. The $9.7-million project increases the existing Buffalo Creek Reservoir by approximately 180 acre-feet to account for an additional 58.6 million gallons of storage. Pedestrian bridges and boardwalks will be replaced and existing trails will be relocated to remove them from the 10-year storm event.
Through a collaborative process with the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) and Buffalo Grove, the project was designed to incorporate LCFPD’s planned improvements in addition to offering increased stormwater protection for Buffalo Grove and surrounding communities. The project will include public access improvements, enhance the preserve’s natural features and expand the reservoir’s volume by excavating more than 300,000 cubic yards of material. Along with the important flood control improvements planned, the project will incorporate several aesthetic and environmental enhancements. Wetlands will be created and restored; hundreds of new trees and shrubs will be planted; upland prairie will be restored west of Schaeffer Road; two tributaries entering the reservoir will be restored; and one tributary will be stabilized. Public access improvements include new pedestrian boardwalks and raised trails, and an expanded parking lot.
The project will remove 107 structures from flooding impacts along the Des Plaines River watershed. More than 2,000 structures along Buffalo Creek and the main stem of the Des Plaines River will also receive some form of flood reduction benefit. During preliminary engineering, the MWRD developed five different sized reservoir expansion alternatives, and worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to determine each alternative’s economic benefits. The USACE determined that the chosen design will reduce future flood damages by more than $26 million.
Officials with the MWRD, USACE, Village of Buffalo Grove, Village of Wheeling and Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) formally broke ground on the project on May 2, 2018, and it will be substantially completed in 2020. Following construction, the MWRD will establish native plantings on site for the first three growing seasons. Monitoring and maintenance will take place to ensure the survival of native species at the site. Concurrently, MWRD will also undertake five years of monitoring and maintenance on the two reaches of stream restoration along the Buffalo Creek Main Stem and the West Unnamed Tributary.