Introduction by Mary Beth Radeck and Mike Bryson
(April 2011 / Revised December 2011)

1851 map of Schaumburg’s natural surface water resources (source: Encyclopedia of Chicago)

Through its excellent location and the land’s resources, Schaumburg was at the leading edge of last century’s American Dream. Sadly, one of the fundamental components of the dream was eclipsed by suburban growth and development: nature. According to the Village-commissioned biodiversity survey by Applied Ecological Services (2004), less than 8% of the Village is still open water, forest or wetlands (p. iii). Intrinsic to the loss of natural areas is clean surface water to support the food chain. Open water resources originally dotted the landscape.

A New American Dream for Schaumburg: Sustainable Water

But after development, residents must “visit” nature at places like Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary within Schaumburg’s 19 square miles. Quietly, nature has slipped from view and Schaumburg has become a veritable urban desert, where only a limited number of species of animals and plants survive. The sterile, monotonous, impermeable Village threatens the suburban dream that once attracted families away from the city to Schaumburg in the first place. It also threatens the compatibility that future generations may have with the Village.

Aerial view of Schaumburg today (source: USGS satellite image)

In order to prosper in the future, Schaumburg and its citizens must forge a new, sustainable American Dream, by reinventing itself and leading the nation in the effort to replenish and protect clean water on behalf of the families of the next millennium.

The Water in Schaumburg Project: An Overview

In April 22nd of 2011, RU Sustainability Studies major and SUST 210 student Mary Beth Radeck did the initial research on water resources and management practices in Schaumburg for version 1 of this collaborative website project. The result of this effort — her essay “A New American Dream for Schaumburg: Sustainable Water” — forms the foundation of the expanded scope of research and writing performed by students in SUST 220 Water during the Fall 2011 semester at Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campus. Radeck’s original essay provides a compelling argument for investing in green infrastructure in order to better manage run-off and develop sustainable water conservation strategies within Schaumburg.

The capstone project for Prof. Mike Bryson’s Fall 2011 Water class was a collaborative research project that examines water sustainability issues in and around the Village of Schaumburg and builds upon the initial analysis of Radeck’s work. This is a deeper and more wide-ranging critique of water-related issues and challenges for this “edge city” of the 21st century and, more generally, the northwest and west suburban communities of the Chicago region. Students were divided into four groups to research the following topics, listed here with their researchers/authors:

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors. As such, they do not represent the official views of Roosevelt University.

Banner photo credit: “Locked in Concrete” (M.B. Radeck)