Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is a basin-like landform defined by highpoints and ridgelines that descend into lower elevations and stream valleys. A watershed carries water "shed" from the land after rain falls and snow melts.  The Nippersink Creek Watershed, as shown below, encompasses over 200 square miles of land in northeast McHenry County, as well as portions of Kenosha County and Walworth County in Wisconsin. 

Any precipitation that falls into the area bounded in red will generally flow downhill to towards Nippersink Creek, and eventually towards the Fox River. While some of this precipitation will evaporate before reaching a stream, or infiltrate into the ground, the majority of the runoff from precipitation is flowing through the creeks of the Nippersink Watershed.
For more information, visit:    EPA Website      USGS Website
Nippersink Watershed Map
Which Nippersink Subwatershed do I live in?
For planning purposes, watersheds are often broken down into smaller units, called “subwatersheds”.  As land use issues and conditions can vary widely across a watershed, the use of “subwatersheds” as planning units can allow more of a localized focus on potential water quality issues and solutions.

The map shown below will let you roughly approximate where in the Nippersink Creek Watershed your property is located.  You can then go to the website to download the report and maps for your subwatershed.   The subwatershed map can also be viewed HERE.
Nippersink Subwatershed Map
Where can I find the maps and reports for the Subwatershed I live in?
CLICK HERE to go to a webpage where you can download, by chapter, the entire Nippersink Creek Watershed Plan (NCWP).  The webpage also allows you to download maps showing the various resources and features of each subwatershed, as well as maps showing where specific water quality projects recommended in the 2008 NCWP are located.
What is a Watershed Plan?
A watershed plan is a comprehensive study of all the activities and sources of pollution on the land that drains rain and snow melt to a specific stream. The plan identifies information about the levels of pollution in the stream, the potential sources of the pollution and the amounts each source contributes. Also included are steps that can be taken to reduce the levels of pollution and flooding and who can take action to perform these steps. Everyone who lives or works in the watershed should participate in developing and implementing this plan so that all concerns about the water in the stream are discussed, investigated, and addressed to ensure clean water for everyone to use.
How was the Nippersink  Creek Watershed Plan created?
A watershed plan for Nippersink Creek was completed in 1996 by the Nippersink Creek Watershed Planning Committee. The Watershed Planning Committee is comprised of a diverse group of landowners, farmers, environmental groups, and business people, with technical assistance provided by various resource agencies and  consultants.   The 1996 plan provided a summary of watershed history, physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the watershed at that time, and an outline for general watershed protection guidelines, and recommendations for restoration and protection of natural resources throughout the watershed. While a valuable document that still provides a wealth of background information, the 1996 plan had become outdated, as it:
only provided a general “road map” to protect the natural resources of the watershed
only identified perceived needs in the watershed at the time (1990s – primarily agricultural issues)
did not address the growth pressures that are present today
does not identify specific projects, prioritization, or the cost to implement them
does not clearly define responsibility for implementation or sources of funding
Result: The 1996 Nippersink Creek watershed plan did not meet all the current requirements set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for funding the future implementation of watershed projects.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) plans and implements non-point source management programs, under authorization granted by Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act. A Watershed Plan that meets USEPA guidelines are eligible to apply for Section 319 grant funds (administered through the Illinois EPA) to assist watershed stakeholders in implementing activities to help mitigate non-point source pollution in the watershed.

A Section 319 grant was awarded by the USEPA / IEPA to allow the 1996 Nippersink Creek Watershed Plan to be updated to meet new implementation funding guidelines, as well as to adapt to on-going changes in watershed land uses.  This planning process was again overseen by the Nippersink Creek Watershed Planning Committee, a sub-committee of the McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The most recent watershed planning effort, the Nippersink Creek Watershed Plan (NCWP), was completed in 2008, which can be viewed on-line at
How will the Nippersink Creek Watershed Plan be implemented?
The Nippersink Creek Watershed Plan (NCWP), funded and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), identified over 150 potential water quality projects to help preserve and enhance Nippersink watershed water quality.  Once a project has been identified in a USEPA/IEPA approved watershed plan, it is eligible for a cost-share grant, which if awarded, can pay for up to 60% of the project cost.  These grants can be applied for every August 1st, with the funds (if awarded) available the next summer. These grants can include the cost of designing and implementing the project.

The Nippersink Watershed Association was formed to move the NCWP from a planning phase to implementation, and is available to work with landowners interested in protecting and enhancing water quality.  However, it should be emphasized that the watershed planning and implementation process relies on VOLUNTARY participation by landowners, and is not a REGULATORY program. Having a potential water quality project identified on your property does not require you to implement it.  However, many landowners recognize that implementing recommended water quality projects can help preserve and enhance their property values.
What is Point Source vs. Non-Point Source water polution?
Point Source water pollution comes from a readily identifiable source, such as a pipe discharging its contents into a stream, river or lake.

Non-Point Source (NPS) water pollution is so named because the pollutants do not originate at single point sources, such as industrial or municipal waste discharge pipes. Instead, NPS pollutants such as fertilizer, road salt, sediment, pesticides, nutrients and bacteria are carried over fields, lawns, and streets by rainwater or snowmelt. These pollutants then enter lakes and streams or seep into groundwater. While some NPS pollution is naturally occurring, most of it is a result of human activities.
What is a "Best Management Practice" or BMP?
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are effective, practical, structural or nonstructural methods which prevent or reduce the movement of sediment, nutrients, pesticides and other pollutants from the land to surface or ground water, or which otherwise protect water quality from potential adverse effects of human activities. Although it is unrealistic to expect that all non-point source pollution can be eliminated, BMP’s can be used to minimize the impact of human activities on water quality. These BMP’s must be reasonable, achievable and cost effective.
Why is the 2008 Nippersink Creek Watershed Plan already being updated?
Due to the size of the Nippersink Creek watershed, it was recognized that not all of the potentially eligible BMP sites could be identified in the planning process, and that it would take additional outreach to identify new potential BMP projects.  As a result, the Nippersink Watershed Association (NWA), which is responsible for implementing the watershed plan, is inviting Nippersink Creek landowners who may have an existing issue in their streamside areas, or on drainageways leading into the creek, to contact us.  If a water quality or land use issue exists that can be addressed by an appropriate BMP, then that project can be included in this NCWBP update, and become eligible for the 60% cost-share in future funding cycles.
The 2008 NCWP identified a “Best Management Practice” on my property.  What next?
If you have viewed the “Recommendations Map” for your Nippersink subwatershed, and a specific water quality “Best Management Practice” (BMP) was identified for your property, the choice is yours as participation is entirely VOLUNTARY.  If you choose to do nothing, that is your choice as the landowner.  However, if you wish to explore further what would be involved in implementing a recommended BMP on your property, feel free to complete the form found HERE.
The 2008 NCWP didn’t identify a “Best Management Practice” on my property, but I may need one.  What next?
If you have viewed the “Recommendations Map” for your Nippersink subwatershed, and a specific water quality “Best Management Practice” (BMP) was NOT identified for your property, it is recognized that there may still be a water quality issue occurring that may need to be addressed.  Again, the choice is yours as participation is entirely VOLUNTARY.  If you choose to do nothing, that is your choice as the landowner.  However, if you wish to explore further what would be involved in determining what could be done to address this issue, or to possibly have a specific BMP recommended for your property and added to the current NCWP Update, feel free to complete the form found HERE.
What Types of Best Management Practices Are Potentially Eligible for USEPA Section 319 Funding?

Any project that will result in a demonstrable reduction in Non-Point Source pollutants, such as soil (sediment), nutrients, or manure / septic system leachate, to streams, wetlands, or lakes may be eligible. Practices could include:

stream channel, streambank, or shoreline stabilization
creation of vegetated buffer strips along streams, lakes, and drainageways
restoration of wetlands
creation of water quality features such as bioswales or rain gardens 

Nippersink Watershed Association
7602 Hancock Drive, Wonder Lake, Illinois 60097