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Regional Study Needed to Provide  Long-term Flooding Solution

The City of Highland Park has been working with both Lake and Cook Counties, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) on a long-term flood mitigation solution following several floods that devastated parts of Highland Park and dozens of communities throughout the region. The mitigation solution would be effective for the residents of Highland Park and other area residents who live along the Skokie and Middle Fork Rivers. A comprehensive regional study is necessary to identify opportunities to mitigate flooding occurring in the community. A preliminary study is anticipated to begin at the end of March, 2018 subject to approval by the participating agencies.

The Skokie and Middle Fork Rivers are under the jurisdiction of US ACOE, the Federal agency responsible for waterway-related capital projects, and flows through Lake and Cook Counties. Part of a preliminary study to be undertaken by ACOE is to determine if a feasibility study is required that will entail a flood protection solution for all communities along the river. If a final feasibility study is undertaken, the potential solutions could result in a combination of storage basins, retaining walls, pump stations, buy-outs, and other measures. Any structural solution, if implemented in the long-run, cannot adversely impact both downstream and upstream properties. ACOE is looking into this preliminary study to determine the impacts of such a feasibility study. ACOE estimates it will take nine months to complete the preliminary study. ACOE-initiated projects typically take multiple years to plan and study. The construction phase takes anywhere from 7-10 years after initiation of a study.

“We know that action to mitigate flooding in our communities is overdue,” said Mayor Nancy R. Rotering. “The City of Highland Park has taken the lead and has been advocating for local solutions at all levels of government. While we are frustrated by the process, we are hopeful that a coordinated solution is possible.”

Since last summer, the group has reviewed several current programs and options including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, localized storage reservoir solution efforts in cooperation with Lake County and the North Branch Chicago River Watershed group, and dredging the Skokie River. The Chicago Botanic Garden confirmed that even though the property stores over 100 million gallons of floodwater during storm events, no further flood mitigation is available and there is no mechanism in place to assist with flood mitigation efforts during storm events.

The City continues to communicate information and alerts regarding flood mitigation via eNews, the website, and social media. The City also communicates alerts received from Lake County Emergency Management Agency and other important agencies through the City's Public Safety Alerts eNews, the City website, and social media (Facebook and Twitter). Residents are encouraged to sign up for the City eNews and Public Safety Alerts eNews at

Regular updates about the City’s flood mitigation work can be found on the City website at This link also includes recommendations and options that residents can pursue on their properties to minimize flooding risks either in a basement or yard. The risk of flooding cannot be completely prevented, especially for those living in the floodplain areas, but in certain circumstances, there are options that can be done to property to help mitigate the flooding and help alleviate some damage.