Per the National Weather Service, April 2017 was the ninth wettest April on record for the Chicagoland area. This much rain will always reveal urban flooding issues that face our municipalities, but it's not just major flooding events that are an issue. As the economy rebounds, many communities are experiencing significant increases in redevelopment activity.
Large new single family homes, built where smaller homes previously existed, are commonly referred to as "tear downs." These are a sign of prosperity, but they can also create significant drainage problems. Increased impervious area, coupled with basements that can far exceed the old standard 8-foot depth, can cause localized flooding and drainage issues for many older neighborhoods. Some of these neighborhoods were constructed long before the implementation of modern storm water management, and can often have little to no infrastructure.
Sump pumps on the deeper basements can often run continuously, and many new homes have multiple pumps to keep them dry. This alone can have a profound impact on neighborhoods with undersized or absent drainage infrastructure, and the most significant impacts can sometimes be completely unrelated to major rainfall events.
So, what can your municipality do to help alleviate these issues? Here are a few ideas.
- Require Volume Control Best Management Practices (VCBMP's) on all new homes.
- Require soils information for new basements to verify that sump pumps won't be lower than the groundwater table.
- Require new sump pumps below a certain depth to discharge into a gray water recycling system for watering lawns, flushing toilets, etc.
- Create a "cap and trade" style impervious surface trading program.
- Create shared VCBMP's on a block-by-block or a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.
These are just examples of the "outside the box" thinking that can help a municipality deal with localized neighborhood flooding. The experts at R/M work with many municipalities in Illinois and Wisconsin, and have experience with a large variety of techniques that can help you manage your storm water.
For more information, contact Andy Sikich .
About the Author
Andrew J. Sikich, P.E., CFM, CPESC
Andy serves as the Illinois Manager with over 20 years of experience in municipal engineering, program management, civil engineering design, land development, project management, and construction management. His experience includes a wide variety of engineering projects, including work in the municipal, industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential sectors for both private and public clients.