What Have We Been Up To?



Friends of Catherine and Channel Lakes secured a $100,000 grant and raised close to $100,000 to fund a whole lake treatment of procellacor to reduce or eradicate Eurasian Water Milfoil in the lakes.

Regulatory Approvals Status: Secured approval from IDNR and EPA

Implementation Status: Implementing in May 2024


Cost: $200,000 

Final Report Status: TBD


Friends of Catherine and Channel Lake is seeking to fund a program to deliver aeration to the entirety of both lakes. Aeration creates a more healthy environment for fish and plants by introducing oxygen into the water column. 

Regulatory Approvals Status: N/A

Implementation Status: Working on grant applications


Anticipated cost: $200,000

Final Report Status: TBD

Lake Management Plan

Friends of Catherine and Channel Lake create a Lake Management Plan to guide all efforts. The Lake Management Plan, which is approved by the DNR, EPA and Fox Waterway Agency, is meant to guide and coordinate efforts on the lakes to achieve a common goal of improved water quality and aesthetics.

Regulatory Approvals Status: Approved

Implementation Status: ILM Environments, an environmental consulting firm based in Waukegan, IL, was hired to prepare the Lake Management Plan, which was completed in Nov. of 2017.


Total Cost: $10,000

Final Report Status: A copy of the final Lake Management Plan can be found here.

Water Quality Monitoring

Friends of Catherine and Channel Lakes, in partnership with volunteers across both lakes, has led monthly testing of Lake Catherine and Channel Lake for: water transparency (using Secchi Disk); water color; Dissolved Oxygen (DO), temperature, and pH. The group is also monitoring Lake Catherine for phosphorous (P) and nitrogen (N) concentration.

Regulatory Approvals Status: N/A

Implementation Status: Monthly testing is ongoing during the spring and summer months


Annual Spend: $1,000 (for lab analysis of P and N)

Final Report Status: Annual reporting

Sludge Reducing Bacteria Pilot Study – South End of Channel Lake

In 2019, Friends of Catherine and Channel Lakes commissioned a 6-acre pilot study on using sludge reducing bacteria (i.e., beneficial natural lake bacteria) to reduce the depth of organic-rich sediments and to determine if this bio-enzyme can lower the concentration of available phosphorous within the sediments layers and water column of the lake. Click for more information on the Sludge Reducing Pilot Study.

Regulatory Approvals Status:

Implementation Status: Pilot study began on May 6th, 2019 and continued through September 2019.

(1) Muck depths across in a grid across the pilot area using a “Sludge Judge” sludge sampler, and

(2) laboratory analysis of 4 samples for TVS (total volatile solids).

Total Volatile Solids Lab Report 5/14/19

Sludge reducing bacteria treatments conducted on:

  • 6/7/19 – 5 lbs.
  • 6/14/19 – 7 lbs.
  • 6/23/19 – 7 lbs.
  • 6/28/19 – 7 lbs.
  • 7/7/14 – 9 lbs.
  • 7/14/14 – 9 lbs.

*no treatments between 7/14 and 8/31 per Letter of Permission


Total Cost: $6,000

Bio-Char Installation to Reduce Phosphorus

One of the main issues in Lake Catherine and Channel Lake is phosphorus. Like many lakes throughout our country, phosphorus from internal plant decay and external storm water run-off has caused problems in our lakes, particularly algae blooms.

 In 2022, we secured an $11,000 grant under the Illinois Farm Bureau Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program. This grant will fund a biochar project to reduce phosphorus in the lakes. Self funded purchase of pallets in 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Bio-char is a porous carbon product that attracts nutrients, metals and pollutants as water flows through it. The char is then removed from the lakes along with the pollutants. This solution may help to reduce the phosphorus load, and subsequently reduce nuisance and sometimes toxic algae blooms. We are currently mapping the lakes to identify the best locations to install bio-char, and working with an EPA-approved vendor to do the work. 





 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is biochar?

A: Biochar is a carbon material that biologically binds phosphorus and other nutrients to it as water passes through. When the biochar is removed, so are the pollutants. This process has been known to reduce phosphorus in lakes by up to 90 percent, and could really help to reduce harmful and toxic algae blooms in our lakes for years to come. 

Q: Who will hang the biochar from my dock?

A: Volunteers who raise their hands to help.

Q: Is biochar harmful to the environment?

A: No. In fact just the opposite. Biochar is a natural carbon material that will trap phosphorus and other pollutants.

Q: Can the bags damage my dock or pier?

A: No. The bags will not damage docks or piers.

Q: How is biochar handled?

A: It’s best to wear gloves and old clothes when handling biochar as it is dirty (like charcoal) when dry

Q: What happens to the biochar after the season?

A: At the end of the season, volunteers will remove the biochar. It will then either be stored for use again the next season or utilized as fertilizer in gardens.

Have more questions? Please reach out to David Perkins at

Aquatic Weed Harvesting

0he Lake Management Plan identifies high levels of invasive plant species in both lakes. Friends of Catherine and Channel Lakes is seeking to conduct targeted (limited) harvesting of invasive aquatic weeds as a shorter term mechanism designed to: (1) remove the invasive weeds immediately (as a preferred alternative to chemical treatments), and (2) simultaneously remove surplus phosphorous (P) from the water which has the potential for longer term benefits to overall water quality.

Regulatory Approvals Status:
The organization filed a required permit application with IL DNR and received approval from all stakeholders.

IL DNR required completion of an Incidental Take Assessment (ITA) and Conservation Plan in order to obtain approval. An Incidental Take Assessment is designed to ensure that planned harvesting activities do not unduly harm endangered or threatened species in the lakes.

Implementation Status: 
Friends of Catherine and Channel Lakes hired Hey & Associates, Inc., a professional environmental engineering firm based in Volo, IL, to conduct the ITA study / conservation plan and complete the permit application. The plan and permit was completed and submitted to the IL DNR in June of 2019.

Spent: $34,000 for ITA, Conservation Plan
Annual Cost: $20,000-$30,000 per year

Final Report Status:
Approved! Information about the Harvesting Program.

Lake Catherine Filtration Project

Friends of Catherine and Channel Lakes designed a filtration system in numerous points in Lake Catherine, including Trevor Creek to reduce incoming sediments and excessive nutrients from entering in the lake.

Trevor Creek has been identified as one of the major sources of sediment into the Fox Chain-O’-Lakes contributing as much as 12% of all the sediment that enters the entire system (second only to the Fox River itself). Specifically with respect to Lake Catherine, Trevor Creek is the main contributor of sediment. Often accompanying such sediment flows are large concentrations of excessive nutrients from non-point sources.

Regulatory Approvals Status:

Secured endorsement for program from Fox Waterway Agency.

Applied to IL EPA for a Section 319 Non-point source Grant. Applied to Lake County Watershed Management Board for a WMB Grant. Did not receive grant funding in 2019 or 2020. Received grant funding in 2022, but did not secure necessary stakeholder support to proceed.

Implementation Status: 

Hired Living Waters Consultants, Inc. (LWC), a professional engineering firm based out of Western Springs, IL, to conduct an assessment of Trevor Creek and the adjacent stormwater drains. LWC created a preliminary design for the filtration system and assisted with submittal of the Plan to IL EPA requesting a 319 non-point source grant.


Spent to Date: $15,000 for assessment and preliminary design

Total Expected Cost: $200,000

Final Report Status:

Did not receive grant funding in 2019 or 2020. Received grant funding in 2022, but did not secure necessary stakeholder support to proceed.

Harvesting Program

Find the press release here.