Channelization and levee construction in Illinois: Review and implications for management

Rosanna L. Mattingly, Edwin E. Herricks, Douglas M. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The environmental impact of loss of natural stream and riparian habitat is of concern throughout the United States and Europe. Environmental impacts related to such activities as channelization of and levee construction along streams and rivers are particularly apparent in the Midwestern United States. The objective of the research presented here was to delineate the extent, relative degree of impact, and implications for management of channelization and levee construction along watercourses located in the state of Illinois. According to records maintained through the Illinois Streams Information System data base (Illinois Department of Conservation), nearly 25% of surface water resources in the state have been modified directly by channelization and/or levee construction. Reviews of agency records, elaboration of case histories, interviews with agency personnel, and inspections of impacted sites indicated that these alterations have occurred without the benefit of effective mitigation. Although permit records may provide suggestions for mitigation to be incorporated in the design of a particular project, permits issued generally do not require even minimal instream habitat and bank stabilization efforts in conjunction with channel alteration. Information derived from policy and case study analyses suggests that institutional constraints, rather than lack of particular understanding about mitigation, provide major barriers to protecting the state's surface water resources in terms of regulatory review, policy interpretation and implementation, and project evaluation. Recommendations for environmental management efforts regarding these and similar channel alterations are elaborated from these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-795
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1993


  • Channel alteration
  • Channelization
  • Levee construction
  • Mitigation
  • Permit review process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


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