Feb 01, 2019

MWRDGC Provides Advice Ahead of Winter Flooding

As snow is expected to melt in the Chicago area, the water district cautions flood control practices

MWRDGC releases advice for flood control ahead of potential winter snow melt
MWRDGC releases advice for flood control ahead of potential winter snow melt

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) released advice for municipalities and residents on how to prevent winter flooding ahead of expected snow and ice melt in the Chicago area. The water district also shared steps they are taking to proactively prepare for the potential increase in runoff in the district’s drainage system.

Following record breaking cold temperatures (-27 degrees Fahrenheit) and a polar vortex in Chicago, the temperature is expected to increase to up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit over the next few days, potentially leading to rapid snow and ice melt. According to MWRDGC, frozen ground is unable to absorb water and snow, leading the runoff to the sewer system. Additionally, ice can block storm drains and streams.

In response, MWRDGC is lowering water levels in the Chicago Area Waterway System to make room for additional storm water runoff. Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) tunnels, including Majewski Reservoir, Thornton Composite Reservoir and McCook Reservoir State 1 are capable of holding more than 11 billion gal of water. Municipalities and the public can ease the burden on the sewer system by reducing water use, MWRDGC said in a release.

Other activities that can help minimize flooding include:

  • Make sure storm drains are clear and not buried under snow drifts.

  • Keep areas around streams free of floatable debris.

  • If your home has a backwater valve installed on the sewer, follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning to ensure that it is functioning properly.

  • Check your sump pump to make sure it is working properly.

  • If your home or area is prone to flooding you may want to remove valuable items from basement floors.

  • Keep your gutters clear. When they are blocked, water will pour over the edges, landing on the ground next to your home. If you have cracks in the concrete wall of your basement or problems with your tile, this water could enter your home.