Tyler Creek Watershed Coalition
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Overview
Tyler Creek is a medium sized, high quality tributary of the Fox River.  The stream drains generally to the southeast from southern Rutland Township toward the northwest side of Elgin, where it joins the Fox River.  The Tyler Creek Watershed encompasses about 40.4 square miles and includes the small tributaries of Pingree Creek, Sandy Creek, and North Plato Ditch. The watershed currently has two very contrasting characteristics: the eastern part of the watershed is highly urbanized, dominated by more than 4000 acres of contiguous development.

The central and western portions of the watershed are agricultural in nature, with corn and soybean fields the dominant land cover.  Also present in this area are two municipalities (Village of Gilberts and Village of Pingree Grove) and numerous small pockets of remaining upland forest, shallow emergent and wet meadow wetlands.
 
Stream/Water Quality Ratings

Tyler Creek was listed in the IEPA’s 305(b) Report as being in Full Support of its Designated Use, which was listed as Aquatic Life.  The IEPA also identified fish consumption as a designated use for Tyler Creek, although the rating for this use as classified as “not assessed”.  There are no other formal analyses which have been completed in the watershed to identify existing water quality or aquatic life impairments, although agricultural ditching and stream corridor encroachment have undoubtedly had significant impacts to the water quality and diversity of aquatic life that historically occurred in the watershed.  Below its confluence with Tyler Creek, however, the Fox River is listed as an impaired waterway  for pH, silt, dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform, total suspended solids, habitat and flow modifications, excessive algae, PCBs, and methoxychlor.
Reason for Concern

The primary concern for the Tyler Creek watershed is not so much existing degradation of watershed resources, but rather the potential for negative impacts brought about by the rapid expansion of suburban development from municipalities within the watershed.  The three municipalities are currently undertaking or planning extensive development through annexation of land currently in agricultural use.  The City of Elgin plans to annex about 8000 acres of the Tyler Creek Watershed at this time and possibly another 2100 acres in a subsequent Facilities Plan Amendment.  This is part of the City of Elgin’s Far West Area Plan, which upon final completion could account for nearly 55% of the total watershed area (10,300 acres new development in addition to 4000+ acres of Elgin currently in the Tyler Watershed).
It is essential that the watershed plan be updated so that existing natural resources can be protected and water quality maintained following the urbanization of this watershed.  The City of Elgin, Village of Gilberts, and the Village of Pingree Grove has all indicated a willingness to cooperate and partner on this watershed initiative, which is essential to the effectiveness of the plan and its implementation strategies.
 
The original watershed plan for Tyler Creek was completed in January 1996 by  Openlands Project with input and guidance from the City of Elgin, Village of Gilberts, Kane County Forest Preserve District, Kane County, and the IDNR.  Funding was provided by the IDNR Office of Realty and Environmental Planning. The plan provided a summary of watershed history, current physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the watershed, and an outline for establishment of a watershed greenway plan, general watershed protection guidelines, and recommendations for restoration/protection of specific sites of concern/interest in the watershed’s sub areas.  
In 1997, the City of Elgin completed the Tyler Creek Management Plan, which focused on stormwater management and natural resource protection in the lower 1/3 of the watershed within the municipal limits of Elgin (current as well as proposed city limits at that time).  This plan was born out of the City’s need to insure the creek through the lower, already developed, portion of the City would not experience additional degradation due to further development upstream following municipal expansion.  This plan identified stormwater management strategies for future development, stormwater retrofit projects, stream corridor restoration / stabilization projects, and wetland banks as part of a plan to improve water quality and reduce flooding. In 2000, the City took this plan a step further and prepared an EPA 319 grant application that included preliminary design plans and cost estimates for implementing several (12-13) of the projects identified in the 1997 Tyler Creek Management Plan.  To date, at least two of these projects have been implemented by the City of Elgin.
The original watershed plan has been revised to reflect current conditions as well as address specific criteria for watershed plans established by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.  These new criteria are designed to make watershed plans much more specific about the problems present in the watershed, the solutions or practices that could mitigate those problems, and identification of implementation costs and assigning of responsibilities to stakeholders to insure recommendations are put into practice.  The last criteria the plan addresses is establishing a monitoring program in order to track the effectiveness of the watershed plan over time.