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.