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Water management can be an integral part of urban comprehensive planning in a large metropolitan area. Water both imposes constraints on land use and offers opportunities for coordinated land and water management. Salt Creek basin in Cook and Du Page Counties of the Chicago metropolitan area is typical of rapidly developing suburban areas and has been selected to illustrate some of these constraints and opportunities and to suggest the effects of alternative solutions. The present study concentrates on the related problems of ground-water recharge, water quality, management of flood plains, and flood-control measures. Salt Creek basin has a drainage area of 150 square miles. It is in flat to. gently rolling terrain, underlain by glacial drift as much as 200 feet thick which covers a dolomite aquifer. In 1964, the population of the basin was about 400,000, and 40 percent of the land was in urban development. The population is expected to number 550,000 to 650,000 by 1990, and most of the land will be taken by urban development.
Salt Creek is a sluggish stream, typical of small drainage channels in the headwaters area of northeastern Illinois. Low flows of 15 to 25 cubic feet per second in the lower part of the basin consist largely of sewage effluent.
Nearly all the public water supplies in the basin depend on ground water. Of the total pumpage of 27.5 million gallons per day, 17.5 million gallons per day is pumped from the deep (Cambrian-Ordovician) aquifers and 10 million gallons per day is pumped from the shallow (Silurian dolomite and glacial drift) aquifers. The potential yield of the shallow aquifers, particularly glacial drift in the northern part of the basin, far exceeds present use. The largest concentration of pumpage from the shallow ,aquifers is in the Hinsdale-La Grange area. Salt Creek serves as an important source of recharge to these supplies, particularly just east of Hinsdale. The entire reach of Salt Creek south and east of Elmhurst can be regarded as an area of potential recharge to the shallow aquifers. Preservation of the effectiveness of these potential recharge areas should be considered in land-use planning.
Salt Creek is polluted in times of both low and high flow. Most communities in the basin in Du Page County discharge their treated sewage into the creek, whereas those in Cook County transfer their sewage to plants of the Metropolitan Sanitary District outside the basin. During periods of high runoff, combined storm runoff and overflow from sanitary sewers enter the creek. Such polluted water detracts from the stream's esthetic and recreational potential and poses a threat to ground-water supplies owing to induced recharge of polluted water to shallow aquifers. Alternative approaches .to the pollution problem include improvement of the degree of sewage treatment, detention and treatment of storm runoff, dilution of sewage through flow augmentation, or transfer of sewage from the basin to a central treatment plant. To result in an enhanced environment, the streambed would have to be cleansed of accumulated sludge deposits.
The overbank flooding in Salt Creek basin every 2 to 3 years presents problems because of encroachments and developments on the flood plains. Flood plains in an urban area can be managed by identifying them, by recognizing that either their natural storage capacity or equivalent artificial capacity is needed to accommodate floods, and by planning land use accordingly. Examples of effective floodplain management include (1) preservation of greenbelts or regional parks along stream courses, (2) use of flood plains for recreation, parking lots. or other low-intensity uses, (3) use of flood-proofed commercial buildings, and (4) provision for compensatory storage to replace natural storage capacity. Results of poor flood-plain management include uncontrolled residential development and encroachment by fill into natural storage areas where no compensatory storage has been
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Water in urban planning, Salt Creek Basin, Illinois water management as related to alternative land-use practices
Water Supply Paper
U.S. Geological Survey; for sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,