The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is preparing for flow by lowering water levels in the Chicago Area Waterway System to make room for runoff. With the recent cold weather expected to start warming up, snowmelt and rain may lead to flooding in the Chicago area.
According to a MWRD press release, frozen ground is unable to absorb water and snow, and run-off immediately flows to the sewers. The ice can block storm drains and streams, as a result flooding may occur when the sewers become overwhelmed from the combination of sewage flow, rain water and snow melt.
MWRD’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) tunnels, Majewski Reservoir, Thornton Composite Reservoir, and McCook Reservoir Stage I are ready to hold over 11 billion gal of water.
The public and municipalities can help plan for flooding by reducing water use. According to MWRD, postponing high water consumption activities such as bathing or showering, running dishwashers or washing clothes will help provide maximum capacity in the local and intercepting sewer systems.
The district also lists multiple activities to help minimize flooding including: make sure storm drains are clear and not buried under snow drifts; keep areas around streams free of floatable debris; keep your home has a backwater valve installed on the sewer; follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning to ensure that it is functioning properly; check your sump pump to make sure it is working properly; if your home or area is prone to flooding you may want to remove valuable items from basement floors; and keep your gutters clear.
MWRD encourages those who see flooding to report it to their municipality; in Chicago call 311.