Willow Lake

Stormwater management

Willow Lake is a beautiful landmark of the Grayslake Campus. It’s also a critical part of the campus’ infrastructure. Willow Lake holds water after a big storm and slowly releases it into Mill Creek, helping to reduce flooding in downstream communities.

Willow Lake was created in the 1970s when CLC’s first permanent buildings were constructed. The lake receives stormwater runoff from a small watershed that includes the campus, nearby recreational areas and neighboring residences.

Small lake, big impact

Even small lakes are an important part of the water cycle that nourishes life. The cycle starts with precipitation, flows bodies of water, evaporates and begins again.

This natural system produces rain and snow, cultivates plant life, recharges groundwater sources and evaporates surface water. The plant species that have adapted to the lake’s wetter environment provide forage and shelter for a variety of invertebrate, reptile, mammal and bird species.

Willow Lake benefits

At CLC: Flood reduction

A major rainstorm in July 2017 caused severe flooding at CLC and the surrounding roads, homes and businesses. The frequency of intense storms is increasing because of the planet’s changing climate. Willow Lake helps reduce the costly (economic and human) impact of flooding by absorbing rainwater.

In Lake County: Save rain

Even small bioswales and rain barrels can reduce flooding risks. Is there a slice of your home or business landscape that can be transformed from grass or pavement into a rain garden to absorb stormwater? Reusing rainwater for car washing or irrigation saves more of this life-giving resource.

Around the world: Floods

Rising water. The feeling of wading through mud and floating debris is enough to make those two of the scariest words in every language. Whether it was Pennsylvania in the late 1800s or the Netherlands (twice) in the 1900s, tales of epic floods have shaped generations.

Flooding is more than a historical theme. Climate change means it’s a growing reality worldwide, from both rainwater and rising sea levels. Engineering solutions preserve life in many ways, and the Dutch built an epic one. Their sea gate, or Maeslantkering, is constructed to hold back a 70-foot-high wall of water from the Atlantic Ocean.