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City and Army Corps Discuss Regional Stormwater Management 

Regional and local flood mitigation exploration continues. On August 30, Mayor Nancy R. Rotering, City Manager Ghida S. Neukirch, and Director of Public Works Ramesh Kanapareddy, met with Colonel Aaron Reisinger, Chicago District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Jeff Zuercher, P.E., Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal agency responsible for waterway-related capital projects. The discussion focused on the impact of repeated flooding in Highland Park and the surrounding areas including the public safety risks, impact on quality of life, and public health issues that arise with each flood event.

Strategies to alleviate future flood potential included dredging and underground water storage reservoirs. While the Skokie River has not been maintained over the last fifteen years and no resources exist at this time, any dredging would have a minimal effect on the magnitude of the flooding that our city has experienced. Any mitigation effort will require assessment that would consider a number of factors including engineering studies, cost-sharing methodologies, potential acquisition of public and private property and partnerships with other Lake County communities along the two rivers. The ACOE agreed to meet again with Highland Park to discuss options. 

“We appreciate the partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers as we seek flood mitigation options,” said Mayor Nancy R. Rotering. “We will continue to take the lead and advocate for local solutions at all levels of government. The time take action is now and we are pursuing all alternatives.” 

 “The ACOE is receptive to the City’s concerns regarding flooding and are interested in exploring long-term solutions,” said Colonel Aaron Reisinger.

During the July flooding, Lake County communities experienced significant rainfall in a short duration of time. The flooding resulted from the amount of rainfall that fell on the Skokie River (East Fork of North Branch Chicago River) and Middle Fork River watersheds. As the rivers rise, the entire storm sewer system is surcharged and excess water causes the streets to flood. There was simply too much rain in too short a time. Additional rainfall following the flooding intensified the effect and had significant impact on roads, homes and operations in Highland Park.

Regular updates and additional information about the City’s flood mitigation work can be found on the City website.