Environmental Quality

Brad Fink
Director of Public Works
E-mail: bfink@wauconda-il.gov

302 Slocum Lake Road
Phone: 847-526-9610
Fax: 847-526-2571


From the Environmental Quality Department

The Environmental Quality Department was created in 2004. The Department aids in maintaining compliance with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requirements and implements and enforces a wastewater pretreatment program in accordance with established Village ordinance. Since the Department was created, it has taken on other responsibilities including:

  • Stormwater management
  • Hazardous environmental emissions
  • Mosquito control
  • Lake management
  • National Priorities List (Superfund) site management
  • Leaking underground storage tank (L.U.S.T.) oversight
  • Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) representation
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources consultations
  • Environmental programs/initiatives.

Please help protect our environment by calling the Illicit Discharge Hotline at 847-526-9610 if you notice anything being dumped down the storm sewer.  Storm sewers drain to Bangs Lake and community wetlands.  Help us keep those environmentally sensitive areas clean!

Department Programs

Click here to view more about the following programs and services:

  • Industrial Pretreatment
  • Grease Abatement
  • Stormwater Management
  • Mosquito Control
  • Hazardous Emissions

Lake Management

Zoning Requirements 2

Stormwater Management Program Plan


Weed Control

Throughout 2011, work began to re-evaluate the options for controlling the growth of the invasive, non-native aquatic plants in Bangs Lake, specifically Eurasian Water Milfoil and Curlyleaf Pondweed. These two species dominate the lake and if left to grow unchecked, these plants would not only limit recreational activities, but also crowd out the native, high-quality plant species that are vital to the health of the lake. Some options for controlling their growth include continued mechanical harvesting, the use of aquatic herbicides, and/or the use of biological controls such as various beetle species. The Village is required to consult with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) on any changes to the current plant control program. In order to complete this consultation, the Village is required to develop a comprehensive lake management plan that IDNR will review. These reviews average seven months.  As such, it is expected that this project will be completed by summer 2014.

Water Level

In September 2011, the Village worked with the Bangs Lake Advisory Committee on revising the written standard operating procedure related to managing the water level in Bangs Lake. Bangs Lake drains through an outlet located on its southwest side. The outlet contains a concrete structure in which flow control bars can be placed to hold back water in the lake. The procedure describes how to measure the water level in the lake, and when the flow control bars should be installed and removed. The Village and the Bangs Lake Advisory Committee agreed to leave the bars in at the end of the summer season for one additional month. This change benefits boat owners who some-times struggle with removing their boats due to low water levels in the lake.

Weed Harvesting

A weed harvester is used to cut and harvest aquatic plants and control invasive species on Bangs Lake. The dominant invasive plant species on Bangs Lake are Eurasian Water Milfoil and Curly-leaf Pondweed. The invasive species are a problem because they grow quickly and prevent the native plants that are an essential part of the lake ecosystem from growing. The Village of Wauconda Environmental Quality Department, in cooperation with the Lake County Health Department Lakes Management Unit and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has developed a plan to manage the aquatic plants on Bangs Lake. The goals of the harvesting program are listed below:

Weed Harvester Goals:

  • Improve navigation
  • Improve recreational attributes of the lake
  • Remove or limit exotic plants
  • Manage without the use of chemicals
  • Reduce nutrient load to lake
  • Return native plants to lake
  • Restore fish and wildlife habitat
  • Improve quality of water resource for all to enjoy
  • Implement plan with Lake County to leave sensitive areas undisturbed.

The Environmental Quality Department has received a bathymetric map from Lake County delineating sensitive areas of native plant species and locations of the invasive species. It also indicates the density of the invasive plants. It is essential that we do not over harvest native plants because the water quality of the lake is dependent on the native aquatic plants. Lanes for navigation will be harvested in sensitive areas to allow for boat traffic. In some sensitive areas the harvester blade will be lifted to allow for mowing rather than complete removal of aquatic plants. The harvester will also avoid fish spawning areas during May and June to allow the fish to reproduce. As you can see, the harvest program will be challenging, but our goal is to strike a balance between our recreational activities and the water quality of the lake.

Since the Environmental Quality Department’s inception, the operation of the weed harvester has been shared with the Public Works Department. Public Works Department staff operates the weed harvester to cut and harvest aquatic plants and to control invasive plant species in Bangs Lake. A total of 771 cubic yards of aquatic plants were removed from the lake be-tween May 2011 and September 2011. Weeds are taken to a nearby com-posting facility where they become a key ingredient in the compost. Over 400 labor hours are spent to conduct this activity. Environmental Quality Department staff coordinates this activity with the Lake County Health Department Lakes Management Unit and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


Bangs Lake Advisory Committee

The Bangs Lake Advisory Committee is an ad-hoc committee that was established by the Mayor in the 1990’s. The committee consists of area volunteer residents and a chairperson (or co-chairs) annually appointed by the Mayor. The committee meets to discuss issues affecting the lake and also sponsors several community lake events such as the Kids Fishing Derby. Please click here for more information the Bangs Lake Advisory Committee and other local partners.



Many fertilizers contain phosphorus as one of their components. In fact, the three numbers listed on the fertilizer container represent the percentage, by weight of the contents, of the three major nutrients required for healthy plant growth: nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium. It is commonly believed that fertilizing with phosphorus will help to “green up” lawns. However, it is the nitrogen that is responsible for making grass greener. Furthermore, most soils in the Midwest already have adequate amounts of phosphorus to grow healthy lawns.

It is estimated that 90% of properly applied fertilizers will be absorbed into the ground and 10% will leave the site of application through stormwater runoff. This stormwater runoff finds its way to lakes, streams, wetlands, ponds, retention areas, and detention/retention areas. It is in these areas that the excess phosphorus may have detrimental effects. Approximately 1/3 of the land area in the Village drains directly to Bangs Lake, either through direct piping or surface runoff. The remaining 2/3 drain to other areas, including the 40 or so detention basins/ponds located within the Village. On a larger scale, the Village of Wauconda lies in the Fox River Watershed. Much of the stormwater runoff in the Village eventually makes its way to the Fox River, unless it is absorbed into the ground, evaporates, or is otherwise contained in a basin or pond.

The Lake County Health Department Lakes Management Unit collects regular water samples from Bangs Lake and tests the levels of many water quality parameters. One of these parameters is phosphorus. In 2008, the level of phosphorus was 0.020 mg/L which was about a third of the county median (0.065 mg/L). Looking at data from 2000-2008, BangsLake has the 8th lowest phosphorus level among the 163 lakes in Lake County. Detrimental effects are likely to be seen at a phosphorus concentration of 0.030 mg/L. Even though the level of phosphorus in Bangs Lake is low, Lake County recommends that all municipalities adopt an ordinance banning the use of fertilizers that contain phosphorus.

The Village has decided to hold off on an ordinance and instead, continue to educate residents about phosphorus. The Village encourages all residents to look at the label and consider using fertilizers that do not contain any phosphorus. Although Bangs Lake has low levels of phosphorus, it is wise to keep as much phosphorus out of the area streams, wetlands, and stormwater detention/retention areas as possible. For a list of retailers that sell phosphorus-free fertilizers, please click here.

Environmental Initiatives

The Environmental Quality Department is always looking for ways in which the Village can become more green. The Village participates in the Clean Air Counts program, endorses the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Greenest Region Compact, supports the adoption of environmental programs that address environmental issues of global importance at the local level, and promote the annual World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour event.

SWALCO’s Reuse-a-Shoe program is one of the most popular, community-wide initiatives designed to raise awareness on the concept of sustainability. Through this program, athletic programs are used to create playground material.

Green Living

How should I dispose of items?

The proper disposal of unwanted items is a goal that will benefit our community and region in many years to come. Wauconda continues to identify and support programs that address both the safety of our residents and the sustainability of our resources. The following information can assist in those efforts:

Personal Items


Re-use A Shoe Program: Recycle Your Old Athletic Shoes

The Village of Wauconda is proud to continue their partnership with the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) in the athletic shoe recycling and reuse program. The program has been going strong for eight years. Athletic shoes are among the most popular types of shoes purchased today and millions of them, in addition to other types of shoes, end up in our landfills each year. Last year, SWALCO collected and transported more than 30,000 athletic shoes for recycling. Additionally, thousands of gently worn shoes of all types were donated to local charities, including Illinois’ own Share Your Soles Foundation. Old athletic shoes of any brand, are collected, and either donated to charity or processed and recycled into a material called “Nike Grind.” Once SWALCO collects the athletic shoes (sometime after Earth Day each year) from their school, community and business partners, they transport them to Nike’s facility to become “grind.” This material is then be used to create sports surfaces like basketball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, running tracks and playgrounds that will be enjoyed by children of all ages, for many years to come.

Individuals or families with just a few athletic shoes they’d like to recycle from their home can stop by one of the year-round drop-off locations listed below:

  • Wauconda Village Hall, 101 N. Main St., Wauconda, IL (847) 526-9600
  • Wauconda Public Library, 801 N Main St., Wauconda, IL (847) 526-6225
  • Wauconda Public Works, 302 Slocum Lake Rd., Wauconda, IL (847) 526-9610
  • Wauconda District #118 Schools
  • Wauconda Federated Church, 200 Barrington Rd., Wauconda, IL (847) 526-8471
  • Wauconda Park District, 600 N. Main Street, Wauconda, IL (847) 526-3610

Groups who have a larger number of shoes or would like to collect should not drop off at these sites but should contact SWALCO directly at 847-336-9340 ext 4. Groups can register to collect any number of athletic shoes, as well as gently worn shoes of all types for donation.

Plastic Bag Recycling

Many retailers throughout Lake County have collected and recycled plastic bags and film for years in an effort to decrease waste streams and be more eco-friendly. With the enactment of the Plastic Bag Recycling Act (Public Act 095-0268), the Lake County Plastic Bag Recycling Task Force was formed by the Illinois General Assembly. Its mission was to develop a plastic bag recycling program. Earlier this month, the Task Force announced the beginning of a six-month pilot program that will enable Lake County residents to recycle plastic bags and film packaging at local stores. The Jewel-Osco in Wauconda is a participating retailer. The Task Force brought together retailers, legislators, industry, recyclers, and environmental groups to develop this program. This program is unique because film packaging is also accepted. Examples of film packaging include furniture wrap, electronics wrap, bread bags, produce bags, and Zip-Lock bags. Click here for a complete list of accepted items. Plastic bags and film packaging can be made into dozens of useful new products, such as building and construction products, low-maintenance fencing and decking, and of course, new bags. Click here for the American Chemical Council’s Plastic Bag Info Sheet.

For more information, please visit SWALCO’s website at http://www.swalco.org/Recycling/PlasticBagRecycling.

Curbside Recycling 

SWALCO has developed a common list of recyclable materials and guidelines for recycling in Lake County. This document was designed to be a simple one page, go-to recycling guide for the Lake County resident that will:

  • Provide a list of acceptable/recyclable items commonly found in the home or workplace with special notations and guidelines that address related issues and questions,
  • Address some of the more common and frequent questions related to recycling,
  • Provide a list of some of the more common items that are not acceptable/recyclable.

These guidelines should serve as a definitive source of information for Lake County residents to assist in clarifying some of the misleading and/or outdated information and to try and address some of the more frequent questions and concerns that residents have with regards to curbside recycling. Please click here to view the guidelines.

Additional Information