Monday night, Chris Burke Engineering (CBE), the village’s engineering firm, delivered its long-awaited flooding report to the village council, with curious community members and municipal staff on hand.
The much-anticipated report, commissioned in the fall of 2014, became a campaign issue in the recent April elections. The firm’s eponymous founder and president, Christopher Burke, gave the presentation with three other company engineers also in attendance.
In remarks before the presentation, Mayor Anthony Calderone said, “[Flooding] has been going on for a long, long time for a lot of reasons. … We just simply cannot ignore the issue.”
The report, which is available on the village’s website, was intended to both evaluate the existing sewer structure and develop ways to “reduce the risk” of street flooding and residential sewer backups.
Parts of the village’s sewer infrastructure are over 100 years old and use a “combined” system to transport both storm water and sewage to the Des Plaines River.
Putting the aging engineering technology in context, Burke said, “In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt was president, the Ford company was not an incorporated entity and the Wright brothers [were] only flying gliders.”
The report analyzes Forest Park’s 1,500 acres in three distinct geographical sections, but did not include the cemeteries, the I-290 corridor or the retail mall space south of Roosevelt Road.
CBE incorporated engineering drawings, historic flooding records, and municipal maps and survey data when developing the options.
“We took all the information and we developed computer models. … This allows us to simulate the effectiveness of different projects,” said Burke.
According to Burke, all three areas suffer from “inadequate pipe capacity” and lack of a comprehensive “separated” sewer system.
Using both a July 2010 rainstorm and a “10-year-storm,” which denotes a storm with a 10 percent chance of occurring annually, as benchmarks, the report compares several construction alternatives for each area.
In the report, a “100-year-storm” refers to 2.1 inches of rainfall in 15 minutes, while a 10-year-storm is defined by 2.1 inches of rainfall in 60 minutes. Burke told the Review that the July 2010 storm was chosen as a comparison because it was a significant rainfall event that most residents would remember.
Each of the construction options vary in cost and scope. The recommendations, which often use a combination of solutions, range from enlarging existing piping systems to installing a new pumping station and storage basin.
The report presents three options for Area 1, four options for Area 2, and one for Area 3 and includes cost estimates as well.
For Area 1, the cost range is between $12.6 and $34.7 million. Area 2 is between $21.2 and $46.4 million. Area 3’s only option is a $9.3 million project.
Acknowledging the hefty construction costs Mayor Calderone added, “To try and fully protect our town is lots and lots of millions of dollars. … It is a very expensive undertaking.
“[The Village Council] could start putting together a plan that breaks this up into smaller tasks,” he noted. “This is something that might need to take place over a 20- or 30-year period.”
Asking if the 70-page report could be separated into smaller sections for easier online viewing, Commissioner Tom Mannix said, “I want to make sure residents see the maps … showing the different alternatives, especially showing what this is actually going to cost to do.”
Commissioner Joe Byrnes proposed scheduling town-hall-style meetings to gauge public reaction to the report.
Agreeing with Byrnes’ suggestion, Calderone said, “That’s a great idea. The best thing we can do at this time is to inform the public.”