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Overflow Action Alert

The MWRD has issued an Overflow Action Day alert. Please limit water usage to absolute necessities. Visit our Overflow Action page for more information.


Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago


The Des Plaines River Watershed is located in portions of Racine and Kenosha Counties in Wisconsin and Lake, Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties in Illinois. Approximately 680 square miles of watershed area is tributary to the Des Plaines River at the Cook-Will County border. For the purpose of MWRD's stormwater management program, the boundary of the Lower Des Plaines River Watershed (LDPR) is the portion of the Des Plaines River Watershed located within Cook County north of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, excluding the Upper Salt Creek Watershed.

The waters of the Des Plaines River originate south of Union Grove, Wisconsin and flows south through Kenosha County before entering Lake County, Illinois. Flow continues south through Cook County, Illinois where it turns to the southwest near Lyons to flow parallel to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal until its confluence with the Kankakee River. The Des Plaines River is approximately 150 miles in length and flows through both Lake and Cook County Forest Preserve Districts.

Tributaries within the LDPR include: 67th Street Ditch, Addison Creek, Buffalo Creek, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Crystal Creek, Des Plaines River Mainstem, Des Plaines River Tributary A, East Avenue Ditch, Farmers-Prairie Creek, Feehanville Ditch, Flagg Creek, Golf Course Tributary, McDonald Creek, Lower Salt Creek, Silver Creek, Weller Creek, and Willow Creek.

Stormwater infrastructure

The MWRD has more than 240 active and complete stormwater projects throughout Cook County. These improvements include regional and local stormwater projects, green infrastructure, Space to Grow, and voluntary flood-prone property acquisitions. To see what projects are active and complete in your watershed, see the map below.

Regional reservoirs

In conjunction with local municipalities, the MWRD operates eleven regional reservoirs located in this watershed, providing 4,999 acre-feet (1.63 billion gallons) of stormwater detention. Click on the accordion below to see a list of these reservoirs.

  • Buffalo Creek Reservoir - Buffalo Grove, IL - 935.8 acre-feet
  • Heritage Park Flood Control Facility - Wheeling, IL - 188 acre-feet
  • Hillside Reservoir - Hillside, IL - 100 acre-feet
  • Mayfair Reservoir - Westchester, IL - 74 acre-feet
  • Mount Prospect Reservoir - Mount Prospect, IL - 130 acre-feet
  • Northlake Reservoir - Northlake, IL - 427 acre-feet
  • Silver Creek Reservoir - Franklin Park, IL - 501 acre-feet
  • Touhy Avenue (O’Hare) Reservoir - Des Plaines, IL - 1,178 acre-feet
  • Wilke Kirchoff Reservoir - Arlington Heights, IL - 100 acre-feet
  • Willow-Higgins Reservoir - Chicago, IL - 1,300 acre-feet
  • White Pine Ditch Reservoir - Wheeling, IL - 65.5 acre-feet

Additional infrastructure

The following MWRD infrastructure are also located within this watershed. Below, you can download a map of these facilities located throughout Cook County.

MWRD Facilities and Infrastructure Map

Tunnel and Reservoir Plan

This watershed is served by the Upper Des Plaines Tunnel and Gloria Alitto Majewski Reservoir as well as the Des Plaines Tunnel System and McCook Reservoir. The tunnels and reservoirs were constructed as part of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP).

Wastewater treatment

Wastewater in this watershed is primarily treated by the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, which can treat up to 1.4 billion gallons of wastewater per day. The northern portion of this watershed are served by both tip of the Kirie Water Reclamation Plant as well as the O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant.

To learn more about wastewater treatment and this facility, please visit the wastewater treatment webpage. We also offer both virtual or in-person tours of our facilities.

Chicago waterways

This watershed flows south from the Des Plaines River, begins running parallel to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) near Lyons, and continues running parallel to the CSSC until they connect just south of the Lockport Powerhouse.

The CSSC makes up a part of the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). The CAWS provides drainage for much of the Chicago region and connects the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico. The MWRD controls the flow and water level in the CAWS using control structures to both prevent discharges into Lake Michigan and reduce the risk of overbank flooding. These structures are located along Lake Michigan and at the southernmost point of the CAWS, the Lockport Powerhouse.

The MWRD also monitors the water quality of these waterways and has installed Sidestream Elevated Pool Aeration (SEPA) stations along the CAWS to improve the water quality and support natural habitats for fish and other aquatic life.

Watershed Planning Council meetings


Lower Des Plaines River WPC

West Central Municipal Council
708-453-9100 |

Lower Des Plaines River watershed council members

Arlington Heights
Bedford Park
Buffalo Grove
Burr Ridge
Des Plaines
Elk Grove Village
Elmwood Park
Forest Park
Forest View
Franklin Park
Harwood Heights
Hickory Hills
Indian Head Park
LaGrange Park
Melrose Park
Morton Grove
Mount Prospect
North Riverside
Oak Park
Park Ridge
Prospect Heights
River Forest
River Grove
Schiller Park
Stone Park
Western Springs
Willow Springs

Opted out of WPC membership to this watershed
Rolling Meadows
Berwyn Township
Elk Grove Township
Hanover Township
Leyden Township
Lyons Township
Northfield Township
Norwood Park Township
Oak Park Township
Palatine Township
Proviso Township
River Forest Township
Riverside Township
Schaumburg Township
Stickney Township
Wheeling Township
Unincorporated Cook County
Opted out of WPC membership to this watershed
Maine Township