A seven mile section of the West Branch of the DuPage River in DuPage County, Illinois is part of a National Priorities List (NPL) site (Kress Creek/West Branch DuPage River) and was contaminated with radioactive thorium wastes. The cleanup involved extraction of the contaminated sediment and soil and restoration of the River in a phased program over a period of approximately eight years. At the River site, sediments, banks, and floodplain areas were contaminated with radioactive thorium wastes. Radioactive sediment and soil in the River and floodplain areas was removed. The local agencies consisted of West Chicago, Warrenville, DuPage County, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, and the West Chicago Park District. A $10 million NOAA grant allowed the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to further enhance the watershed with environmental projects.
The overall objective of the grant work was to provide environmentally sound projects and long-term improvements to restore the ecological health and biological diversity to the West Branch DuPage River and watershed. Our project team has developed watershed enhancement projects, including stormwater quality wetland creation, a deep over-wintering pool for fish habitat, a side channel concept to develop high water quality habitat, vernal pool creation for reptiles/amphibians, a partial/complete dam removal concept, and development of an urban stream research and educational facility. Specifically, WBK performed hydrologic/hydraulic analyses, wetland assessments, stream geomorphology assessments, biologic evaluations, and preliminary and final designs related to future projects for the reach of the West Branch DuPage River.
WBK identified specific watershed issues related to flood plain management, wetland protection, riparian zone protection and enhancement, stream restoration and bank stabilization, groundwater recharge, and water quality concerns within the watershed.