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Fox River Stratton Operations Status Update



IDNR Announces 2021 Operating Schedule for Stratton Lock 

MCHENRY, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced the operating schedule for the William G. Stratton-Thomas A. Bolger Lock facility on the Fox River in McHenry County. 

The lock opened Saturday, May 1 for the 2021 navigation season. Normal operating hours will be seven days per week from 8:00 a.m. until midnight for the months of May through September, and 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. for the month of October.

The Stratton-Bolger Lock facility is closed for the winter season each year from November 1 through April 30.

The testing of the dam gate control system at the McHenry and Algonquin facilities to be performed by the IDNR/OWR this week has been canceled. The IDNR will provide an update regarding the revised testing schedule as it becomes available.  

Measured inflows on the Fox River near New Munster, WI are 500 cfs; flows on Nippersink Creek near Spring Grove are 117 cfs. The Fox Lake stage is 4.04 ft; the Stratton Dam Tailwater stage is 1.45 ft. The Fox River at the Algonquin Dam Tailwater stage is 5.69 ft.  

The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting 0.1” to ¼” of precipitation for the next 7 days in the Fox River watershed as shown on Figure 1. 


The NWS has issued a final spring outlook on March 11, 2021. According to this outlook, “the risk of flooding ranges from below average to near average. The risk of flooding has decreased slightly in the Fox River basin. All of the snow cover has melted and this has allowed the risk of flooding to trend back toward the typical risk.


According to the NWS, “Recent dry conditions across northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana have caused significant drop in river elevations and soil moisture. Drought conditions have developed and worsened across the area. The most significant impacts at this time include the near surface soil moisture and the small rivers and streams in the Chicago metro area. Although water levels on large rivers (such as the Fox, Kankakee, and Illinois) are not as significantly below average, they will continue to fall without additional precipitation.” Moderate drought conditions exist close to the Chicago metro area and along Lake Michigan.

IDNR/OWR goal is to maintain the normal summer pool of 4.0 ft at the Fox Lake. The current stage is 4.04 ft. The boating outlook in the Chain of Lakes is looking good for the remainder of the week as well as for the weekend. The IDNR/OWR will closely monitor the precipitation forecasts by the NWS and will make gate setting changes, as necessary, to minimize potential rainfall impacts.

See PDF .