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RIVERS, LAKES, AND STREAMS ACT

In the state of Illinois' Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Act (RLSA), IDNR's Office of Water Resources (IDNR/OWR) is granted, among other responsibilities, the authority to regulate construction activities in floodplains. According to the RLSA, persons proposing such activities must first secure a permit from IDNR/OWR. The RLSA is focused on preserving the hydrological integrity of the state's public waters. It is not focused on protecting biological or ecological integrety, but because a large number of Illinois' wetlands are located in the floodplains of rivers and streams, it is very likely a construction activity in a floodplain will also affect a wetland. It is, therefore, beneficial to discuss this peripheral regulatory authority.

IDNR/OWR has two separate but similar floodplain regulatory programs established in the RLSA. One is for the six metropolitan "collar" counties in northeastern Illinois: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will. The second program is for the rest of "downstate" Illinois. The purpose of both programs is to, "protect the rights, safety, and welfare of private and public landowners by the regulation of floodway development, [because] construction activities which restrict a stream's capacity to carry flood flows may result in channel instability and increased flood damages to neighboring properties" (State of Illinois 1994).

The downstate regulatory program requires permits for construction in the floodway of any stream serving a tributary area of 640 acres in urban areas or 6,400 acres in rural areas. The Northeastern Illinois Program requires permits be issued for construction in any regulated floodway. It does not limit the tributary area (State of Illinois 1994).

In order to facilitate efficiency in the review of permit applications IDNR/OWR has issued several comprehensive permits similar in nature to the USACE NWPs. Twelve statewide permits have been issued that are applicable to downstate Illinois. There are also a number of very similar regional permits that apply only to activities in northeastern Illinois (State of Illinois 1994).

In addition to the floodplain management program, IDNR/OWR administers regulatory authority over activities in the state's public bodies of water and the construction, operation, and maintenance of dams. Many activities regulated by IDNR/OWR are also regulated by different government agencies, under different authorities, for different purposes (i.e., Section 404, Section 401, Swampbuster, and IWPA). In an effort to improve coordination and communication between the regulatory agencies, IDNR/OWR uses a joint application form entitled Protecting Illinois Waters for its floodplain, public waters, and dam safety permits. Projects meeting the terms and conditions of a general permit, require no further authorization by IDNR. In this case it is not necessary to file a joint application, though the project may still require permits from other agencies. For a complete description of the terms and conditions of the general permits or to file for an individual floodplain permit persons should contact IDNR/OWR.


[ Introduction   | Section 404 Program
 |  Nationwide Permits & General Conditions | Section 401 Program |Critical Resource Waters |  Swampbuster Prog.  | Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989  |  Rivers, Lakes & Streams Act  | Wetland Detmermination & Delineations |Conclusion ]

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