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Stormwater Project in Southwest Elmhurst May Increase in Scope

Consultants say work could make big rain events more tolerable for thousands of residents.

After hundreds of hours of work and many Power Point presentations devoted to evaluating how storm and sanitary sewer water flows through Elmhurst, the city is finally considering a big project aimed at reducing the impact of major rain events.

The Public Works and Buildings Committee Monday night gave first approval to enlarging a project in the southwest part of the city that could result in better protection for more than 2,000 homes.

City staff originally proposed repairing the sanitary lift station at Saylor and Jackson streets; the pump house experiences breakdowns multiple times each year, Public Works Director Mike Hughes said. This station pumps sewage to a pipe along McKinley Avenue that then takes it to the wastewater treatment plant.

But in designing plans for the upgrade, one of the city's consultants, RJN Group, came up with a project that was larger in scope but could divert water from one of the neighborhoods hardest hit during storms.

This new project, said RJN's Alan Hollenbeck, would create 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 at the wastewater treatment plant. To handle these two flow levels, a 25-inch pipe would be installed to bring the water to the lift station.

Currently, the pipes running from the Saylor and Jackson station range from 8 to 10 inches, and the system does not take advantage of the 1.2 million gallons of storage at the wastewater facility along Route 83.

Hollenbeck said that up to 2,330 homes as far north as Crescent Avenue could see the benefits of this project.

“We would be providing the ability to get that wastewater out of the area and out of people's basements,” Hollenbeck said.

Hughes was also optimistic about RJN's proposal, saying that it could have as much impact on the area as the creation of the Salt Creek levee.

Hollenbeck said if RJN could get preliminary surveying done this year, the city was on course to have the project in place by spring 2014.

While RJN was looking forward, aldermen were remembering the storms that devastated the city in 2010. They asked RJN to model how the proposed project would have handled the water that rushed through the neighborhood that summer. Hollenbeck said this could be done, but he reminded them that the 2010 event was unusually severe.

Fifth Ward Alderman Chris Healy cautioned against implying that increasing the pipe size and directing water storage to the plant could have prevented the many basement backups that occurred two years ago.

Since the project has not been fully designed, an estimate of cost is not yet available.

The proposal now goes to the full council for consideration.

Bill Angel October 10, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Say what? How much will the new design and work cost the taxpayers for the 2400 homes? Has not something very similar been proposed in the past? There has NEVER been a problem in Elmhurst with daily wastewater capacity. There has NEVER been a problem in Elmhurst with daily water usage. Fifth Ward Alderman Healy is certainly asking the correct line of questions. News flash...the problem was STORMWATER for the 2010 rain event! You need a place to store the HUGE increased rain fall and then slowly discharge the "hold" rain water following strict local, county, state and federal requlations. I bet RJN would love to start the project tommorrow. Is this something the city would send out and ask other proposals for? Can you really fool mother nature?
Cincinnatus October 10, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Because of the "combined" sewers, which are in many houses built prior to the '60's, storm water and waste water should be considered together. Otherwise, large storms will back-up sewerage into basements causing a health and safety hazard.
Mitchell October 10, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Flood occurs EVERY YR in Elmhurst along with power outage EVERY yr. We need to improve our public works NOW!
Kathleen Sullivan October 11, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Both the sanitary and storm water sewer systems were "fully charged" during the 2010 storm on 7/24/10. No one solution will solve the problems incurred that date. This project is a good first step as it will address problems for a large number of homeowners in SW Elmhurst.
traderchick October 11, 2012 at 03:29 AM
I have been here 26 yrs....the problem has not been solved
Bill Angel October 11, 2012 at 02:18 PM
@LizW, Mr. Healy is the only person asking the cost question and peeling the onion back to see through modeling and diagnosis if the RJN proposed project has verifiable merit. This can be accomplished with any good civil engineer 'water shed" computer program model. Could it be there is a high probability of no real solution if you live in a flood way or flood plain? To date, the city has stacks of consultant reports that are collecting tons of dust. What happens if the taxpayers spend $30-$100 million dollars on the so called "fix" in 2014 and in 2015 we get hit with a rainfall like 2010? We both know the answer!
RobertAWilson October 11, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Elmhurst has two problems: 1) sewer back-ups and 2) too much rainfall flooding streets, yards and homes. These problems are connected because heavy rainfalls mean some of that water gets into the sanitary sewer. If too much water gets in, the sewage has no where to go and it ends up in basements. This solution isn't about flood plains and water that goes over land and into basements. This option will fix sewer back-ups in one section of town by giving all that stuff somewhere to go. This option will help protect over 2000 homes in southwest Elmhurst during a 25-year rainfall because now the pipe will be a lot bigger, the pump will be replaced, and there will be a new tank to hold all that extra stuff. The "low flow" pipe is for normal (i.e. not rainy) days. When the rains hit and the sanitary sewer starts to fill, the system will switch over to the "wet" pipe. And to answer traderchick, nothings been built yet so, no, the problem is not yet solved. It sounds like this project will do a lot to help fix sewer back-ups for a heck of a lot of people who got nailed in the 2010 storms.

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