Chicago water district officials form relationships with legislators in flood prevention efforts
Earlier this month, Commissioners with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) descended on the state capitol to talk new strategies and partnerships in the pursuit of improved stormwater management and anti-flooding initiatives.
Flooding is only one of several priorities the MWRD addresses in improving the region's water environment, but it was brought to the forefront during meetings with Illinois General Assembly members. The annual visit to Springfield was part of the commissioner's efforts to advance its legislative initiatives while keeping legislators informed of MWRD activity. The MWRD has nearly 100 stormwater projects in the works, many of which involve local partners to amass available resources and work together to better manage intense rain events.
The MWRD is also working to promote House Bill 4659, introducing the Residential Cost Share Program, which aims to reduce basement backup flooding of residences and eliminate infiltration and inflow from the sewer system. The proposed legislation would allow the MWRD to provide funding to support work on private property, creating cost share programs with local municipalities for residential improvements, such as sewer lateral re-lining or replacement, installation of overhead sewers or other backflow prevention devices, and use of green infrastructure techniques such as cisterns and rain gardens.
"We are here to help in the fight against flooding and we want our legislators to know we are here to answer the call," said MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos. "Forming partnerships and establishing creative relationships will go a long way towards getting ahead of the next big storm to keep our basements dry and o ur waterways free of pollution."
Excessive infiltration and inflow into the sanitary sewer system poses a serious problem that contributes to sanitary sewer overflows and basement backups. Excessive infiltration and inflow takes away from sewer capacity intended for sanitary sewage and results in additional sewage treatment and sewer maintenance and operations costs to the public. The MWRD created the Infiltration and Inflow Control Program to correct and rehab local separate sanitary sewer systems.
The increased frequency and intensity of storms has resulted in millions of dollars of damages to residential homes due to basement backups and flooding across Cook County. A recent study by the city of Chicago indicates that approximately one out of 10 basements in their systems is at risk annually to a sewer backup. The study concluded that rather than constructing additional infrastructure, it is more cost effective to install backflow preventers or overhead plumbing.