Natural and Beneficial Floodplain Functions
Floodplains should be seen in their natural context. They are more than just hazardous locations for human development. They provide habitat for flora and fauna, groundwater recharge, and recreational and aesthetic opportunities. Several City parks front on the Little Calumet River, providing a more scenic setting and more relief than other locations provide.
Open and natural areas, such as the Forest Preserves, absorb much more rain and floodwater than urbanized areas, reducing flood flows on downstream properties. Wetlands reduce flood velocities and erosion. Their plants filter stormwater runoff, making it cleaner for those downstream. There are many areas Calumet City that have been identified as wetlands. The largest areas are in the Sand Ridge and Wentworth Woods Forest Preserves.
Nearby Forest Preserves, such as Calumet City Woods, have kept or restored oak woodlands and prairies close to their natural state. These floodprone areas are used by a variety of wildlife and provide habitat for species that cannot live or breed anywhere else. For example, after being gone for over 150 years, beaver have moved back into the North Creek and Little Calumet River floodplains.
It is important that we preserve such natural areas and wetlands. While some development is allowed, the City and state and Federal agencies make sure that the natural benefits of any filled wetlands are compensated by creation of additional or improved wetland habitats nearby.
Another concern is water quality. The storm drain system carries untreated stormwater runoff directly to our streams. Pouring wastes into storm drains directly impacts our environment. Oil, anti-freeze, paint, fertilizer and pesticides pollute the water, destroy plants, and endanger wildlife. For example, one quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water. The oil from one motor oil change can create an eight-acre oil slick. Therefore, you should do your part to help keep our streams and storm drains free of pollutants.