Spigot Opens on Sanitary System Solution for Homes in Southwest Elmhurst
Engineering work gets the OK from aldermen, moving southwest project along.
Aldermen struck a cautious but optimistic tone as the full Elmhurst City Council on Monday approved the first step of a project that may reduce flooding for thousands of homes in the southwest part of the city.
A reconstructed wet-weather sanitary system, now in the preliminary engineering stage, is intended to kick in during heavy rain events to get more water to the Saylor and Jackson streets lift station faster and pump it to the wastewater treatment plant on Route 83 for storage.
The plan involves constructing an 8-inch low-flow main for daily water usage and an 18-inch wet-weather main for large rain events that would push excess water into storage. To handle these two flow levels, a 25-inch pipe would be installed to bring the water to the lift station.
The city’s Public Works and Buildings Committee approved going forward with engineering work on the project last week. RJN Group will complete the evaluation and design at a cost of $71,300.
Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram was the only “no” vote on Monday. Bram said he was “baffled” as to why the committee was recommending such a large public project when the city and its engineering consultants agree that much of the sewer and water system overload during bad weather comes from private property.
“It seems like putting the cart before the horse,” he said.
Bram also wondered how the project would affect operations and future land use at the treatment plant.
Public Works Chairman and 6th Ward Alderman Jim Kennedy agreed that most of the inflow and infiltration to the sanitary and stormwater system comes from homes and other private uses. The southwest wet weather project, he said, would be just part of a whole solution.
“There’s a lot of heavy lifting to do on the private side,” he said. “But this can make an immediate impact.”
Alderman stressed that “immediate” was still a relative term, as ground would likely not be broken until next summer and the project not completed until 2014.
First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf agreed.
“This has a ripple effect on other projects we’ve been considering,” she said.
She added that completing the work, which is expected to relieve about 2,300 homes of the kind of catastrophic flooding that occurred during severe storms in summer of 2010, will give the city more time to consider policy changes that could affect private property owners.
Fifth Ward Alderman Chris Healy wanted residents to be clear that the Saylor/Jackson project did not address private sewer and waterflow issues, and that the answers to those problems are years down the road.
“It literally might take decades to dry the system out,” he said.