History & Background
Northeastern Illinois has the distinction of being one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas of the nation. The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission forecasts suggest a rate and pattern of growth markedly different from what was experienced between 1970 and 1990. During those two decades, the population of northeastern Illinois increased by only 4 percent, from 6.98 million to 7.26 million people.    

While overall growth was moderate, its impacts were substantial because of the way the growth was distributed. The population of the growing suburban areas increased by 24 percent or almost 1 million, while the City of Chicago and eighty-nine suburban cities and villages lost a total of about 770 thousand people.

These demographic changes were accompanied by substantial changes in the use of land. Between 1970 and 1990, while the region's population increased by only 4 percent and employment grew by 21 percent, the amount of land in urban uses increased by over 33 percent. Over 450 square miles of agricultural and vacant land were converted to residential and employment uses, streets, and public buildings.

This high rate of land consumption reflected the generally larger lot sizes which have characterized residential, commercial, and industrial development and redevelopment throughout the region. It also reflected a high rate (20 percent) of household formation relative to population increase as household sizes declined. Still, the overall pattern was one of a few more people occupying a lot more land. The result of this population growth and farmland conversion has led to significant sedimentation problems in downstream waterways.
 
Development of the Program
Since 1986 the Corps has administered a permit program under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act which regulates various activities in waters of the United States, including wetlands. As a condition of permit issuance, the Corps requires appropriate soil erosion and sediment control measures to be implemented and maintained until the construction site is vegetated and stabilized. The Corps reviews the impacts of a proposed project with the supposition that soil erosion from the site will be negligible.

For a number of years E & S plans were submitted to the Corps but because the Corps lacked sufficient staff with urban erosion problems very few plans were fully implemented, if at all. When considering the geographical location of the Corps office (downtown Chicago) it makes regulation and enforcement a difficult task in the six county metropolitan area. The Corps contacted staff from the McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District (MCSWCD) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to ask if each agency could be of any assistance in both the review of E & S plans and inspection of the implemented plans.

The idea of a cooperative agreement was created as a means of clarifying each agencies responsibilities. The Interagency Coordination Agreement (ICA) was officially signed into action by all three agencies on January 7th 1997. To date cooperative agreements exist in northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane Lake, and Will. The ICA that was eventually drafted created the framework and spelled out the details and responsibilities of each agency. For the past 50 years the NRCS and SWCD’s have had very similar agreements called Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). 
Details of the Program
Basically the Interagency Coordination Agreement (ICA) states the Corps will:
Require the permittee to consult with the SWCD on E & S control plans.
Request the SWCD review plans for adequacy and effectiveness.
Request the SWCD to attend a pre-construction meeting
Request the SWCD review and comment on inspection reports and proposed corrective actions
Request the SWCD to conduct on-site inspections
 
The SWCD will:
Utilize appropriate technical references
(Illinois Urban Manual, NRCS Tech Guide).
Conduct onsite investigations prior to the issuance of permit.
Review E & S control plans.
Attend a pre-construction meeting.
Conduct onsite inspections of the active construction site for compliance.
Notify the permittee of plan deficiencies. Consult with developers and contractors concerning design, installation and maintenance of E & S practices.
Assume administrative responsibilities.
 
The NRCS will:
Assist the Corps and the SWCD in carrying out the provisions of the M.O.U.
Provide planning and technical assistance.
Provide technical reference materials.
Assume administrative responsibilities.
 
The following Illinois SWCD's have signed the M.O.U.
McHenry County- Jan. 7, 1997
North Cook County- May 8, 1997
Will /So. Cook County- June 10, 1997
Kane/DuPage County- June 12, 1997
 
Because many developers work in multiple counties the SWCD’s found it necessary to have some consistencies in the forms used, fee schedules, plan review turn around time, and other aspects of the program.
 
 
Kane-DuPage Soil & Water Conservation District
2315 Dean Street, Suite 100, St. Charles, Illinois 60175
630/584-7960, Ext. 3