Simpler stormwater management through cooperation - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Simpler stormwater management through cooperation

New law eliminates unnecessary governments, streamlines management of stormwater and sewage in Lake County

Photo Courtesy Danilo Pinzon / World Bank

Location of Lakes Region Sanitary District and Seavey Drainage District in Lake County, Illinois. Public Act 100-0874 establishes a process to eliminate these single purpose governments. Local municipal governments and Lake County will assume responsibility for the districts’ infrastructure. Map by Maggie Catania. 

The Metropolitan Planning Council is devoting new time and resources to promoting Effective Government. Local governments in Illinois face severe fiscal pressures, and MPC stands ready to help them—but we often find that outdated laws and practices of the State of Illinois hinder the ability of local governments to creatively solve their problems. A new law demonstrates a step in the right direction. 

Illinois has more units of government than any other state. Many of these are single purpose units of government with the authority to levy taxes as they oversee a service that a department of municipal or county government might instead provide. This excess of governments motivates MPC and Transform Illinois to support laws like Public Act 100-0874, Dissolution of Districts - Lake County, which advances elimination of the Seavey Drainage District and the Lakes Region Sanitary District, two single purpose governments in Lake County.

In early 2018, Senator Dan McConchie, R-Lake Zurich, and Representative Nick Sauer, R-Libertyville, sponsored this bill in the Senate and House respectively. It passed both chambers during the spring session with overwhelming bipartisan support. Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law on August 14, 2018.

Dissolution of the Seavey Drainage District

The Seavey Drainage District will be dissolved. The district, which did not fully encompass the Seavey Ditch, has not levied taxes or performed maintenance in more than a decade. Instead the Villages of Mundelein and Vernon Hills have managed the Seavey Ditch, an important stormwater control for the two communities. Map by Maggie Catania. 

Public Act 100-0874 formalizes the way the Seavey Ditch is currently governed and maintained. The appointed Seavey Drainage District board has not levied taxes or overseen any maintenance in more than a decade. Instead the elected village governments of Vernon Hills and Mundelein have carried out necessary repairs using village funds. This act codifies this arrangement, making explicit that the district will be dissolved on or before December 31, 2019 and that after its termination, the municipal governments will be responsible for managing infrastructure within their boundaries. 

While the Seavey Ditch was dug more than a century ago to drain farmland, it is still critical for managing stormwater in adjacent communities. It flows through present day Mundelein and Vernon Hills, draining land in southern Libertyville along its way. It empties into Indian Creek and, ultimately, the Des Plaines River.

Advancing the Elimination of the Lakes Region Sanitary District

Lakes Region Sanitary District may be disbanded. Lake County would assume the districts responsibilities. Lake County already oversees sanitation services for adjacent unincorporated communities and for portions of all six of the municipalities that intersect the current sanitary district. Map by Maggie Catania. 

Additionally, Public Act 100-0874 gives the Lakes Region Sanitary District the right to disband and establishes that Lake County would assume the district’s responsibilities. This will clarify and simplify the provision of sewerage services in this area of Lake County. The current Lakes Region Sanitary District overlaps portions of six municipalities and also encompasses unincorporated Lake County communities. Lake County already provides sewerage services for other portions of these same municipalities and for adjacent unincorporated communities.

This law follows a similar law from 2016 that dissolved the sanitary districts for Round Lake and Fox Lake Hills. Lake County now manages sanitation for these two nearby communities.

With this new law, Lake County residents will be burdened with fewer taxing bodies, while recieving the same or improved sanitation and stormwater services.

Learn More about MPC's support of Legislation that Leads to Better Government:

"School district transparency can lead to greater efficiency" by Angela Reilly

"Better government is closer than ever in Illinois. Here's Why." by Sawyer Mideleer

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