Program looks to reduce stormwater runoff in Libertyville
Joe Marencik of Grayslake explains how a rain barrel catches water to reduce water run-off. Marencik is the Watershed Coordinator with the Bulls Creek-Bulls Brook Watershed Council which is doing a project with the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission to reduce water runoff from residences into Butler Lake. | Alyssa Schueneman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:18AM
LIBERTYVILLE -- Residents of one neighborhood are being asked to participate in a pilot program to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that flows from their residences and pollutes lakes and streams, including Butler Lake and Bull Creek.
The Bull Creek-Bull’s Brook Watershed Council, in conjunction with the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission and Conserve Lake County, are targeting 41 homes east of Lake Street in Libertyville as part of a project to reduce or divert stormwater runoff from downspouts.
Joe Marencik, project coordinator for the Bulls Creeks-Bull’s Brook Watershed Council, said the purpose is to make residents aware of the amount of stormwater runoff that comes from rooftops and downspouts.
“This is something individual homeowners can do to make a big difference,” he said.
Marencik said typically what happens during a storm is water runs off the roof of houses into downspouts, which usually flow onto driveways and then onto the streets and storm sewers. The runoff picks oil, road salt and other pollutants from streets and driveways and eventually ends up flowing into streams, lakes and rivers.
“One of the lakes we’d had a big problem with water quality is Butler Lake in Libertyville,” he said. Butler Lake then flows into Bull Creek and the water eventually ends up in the Des Plaines River.
“That’s one of the reasons we choose this area (to study),” said Patti Werner, planning supervisor for the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission. “It’s pretty clear where the runoff goes and that’s into Butler Lake.”
Warner said the pilot project seeks to educate homeowners in that area on steps they can take to reduce water runoff from downspouts. Some of the ways include diverting downspouts from driveways to yards or flower beds, where the water can slowly soak into the ground. Rain barrels or rain gardens can also reduce stormwater runoff, she said. Rain barrels can also provide homeowners with a source of fresh rainwater to water plants or flowers during the hot, dry months of summer.
Marencik said what individual homeowners do can make a big difference.
“During a typical year, those 41 homes alone generate over 2 million gallons of stormwater runoff, which is roughly the equivalent of filling a football field six feet deep,” he said.
Marencik said he sent out postcards to residents in the study area the second week of July asking them if they could be would interested in participating in the pilot project. The neighborhood being studied includes portions of Lake and West streets, Cook Avenue and Lange Court. He said he’s received a few responses so far.
Residents who participate in the project would be eligible to receive a 20 percent discount off of materials needed to retrofit downspouts from the local Ace Hardware store.
If the program is successful, Marencik said it could be expanded to other areas of the county. Similar programs have been tried in Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis, Minn., and have proved very successful, he said.
Persons who would like more information about the pilot project can contact Marencik via e-mail at email@example.com.