DuPage County, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup (DRSCW) hosted a news conference Wednesday to announce a regional watershed protection partnership. Following the announcement was a ceremonial intergovernmental agreement signing and tour of a cooperative project at Oak Meadows Golf Course in Addison.

The agencies are entering into a watershed protection partnership to preserve and enhance the quality of streams and rivers throughout the region.

“By working together, this partnership will create lasting benefits for our watersheds and the people of Cook and DuPage Counties,” said MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos. “As neighbors sharing the same goals of protecting our environment, improving water quality and developing flood control initiatives, it was only natural for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to participate in this landmark agreement that provides a better quality of life for generations to come.”

The partnership agreement promotes collaboration among the agencies to reduce governmental redundancy, enhance environmental protection and increase flood control throughout the region, all while reducing overall costs.

“We recognize that watersheds and local river systems are not constrained by governmental boundaries,” said DuPage County Board Stormwater Management Committee Chairman Jim Zay. “This innovative partnership brings together regional resources and the expertise to promote efficiency and responsibility on behalf of taxpayers as we ensure the health of our waterways.”

The DuPage County agencies have a long-standing history of working together on both flood control and water quality projects with each of the entities contributing expertise ranging from planning to project oversight to water quality research.

“We are committed to protecting the waterways in DuPage County, and this cooperation combines our considerable skills and abilities to further protect and enhance our watersheds more efficiently,” said Forest Preserve District President Joe Cantore.

Following the ceremony, attendees toured the cooperative restoration project at Oak Meadows Golf Course to learn more about its flood control and water quality features.

“A waterway’s health is measured by the life it supports. Removing the dam and sheet piling, and restoring a more natural channel and buffer at Oak Meadows, this portion of Salt Creek will recover.  We’ll see an improved habitat in the channel and along the banks, higher dissolved oxygen in the water, and one less barrier to fish passage,” said DRSCW President Dave Gorman. “The broad and deep partnerships in our group have been instrumental as we learn of our waterways’ impairments and also as we identify opportunities for improvements, such as this project.”

Beyond the Oak Meadows project, which is anticipated to be completed during the spring of 2017, the agencies are in the planning phase of several water quality projects that would benefit shared watersheds.