19 Aug 2014
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Letter: A New Infrastructure Plan for Elmhurst; What Do You Think?

Alderman Diane Gutenkauf explains the estimated $6.5 million in upgrades that will protect thousands of homes from flooding, and she wants your input.

Letter: A New Infrastructure Plan for Elmhurst; What Do You Think?

Following the devastating floods of 2010, Elmhurst hired consulting engineers to help us address two distinct but related problems: sanitary sewer backups in private homes and overland flooding from excessive rainfall. We also established two task forces of local residents to analyze the engineers’ reports and provide advice to the City Council.

City Council has been presented with the engineers’ reports and the subsequent Task Force reports. The Public Works and Buildings Committee was charged with assessing their advice, drafting policies and taking action that will affect and assist you.

Engineers from the RJN Group examined Elmhurst’s sanitary sewer system to help us come up with a better plan to protect Elmhurst homes. On Monday, Jan. 28, they presented the Public Works and Buildings Committee with a proposal to protect 2,331 homes in southwest Elmhurst—site of many of the hardest hit homes. As a member of this committee, I would like to share their findings with you and would like your input at this stage.

Key to protecting homes in southwest Elmhurst is a new, wet-weather control facility. This project will significantly reduce the frequency of sewer backups in the Saylor and Jackson area by increasing the capacity of the pumping station, the surrounding upstream sewer and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

This plan involves the city installing a new, larger sanitary sewer pipe—around 18 inches in diameter—that will run from the affected neighborhood to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. At the treatment plant, we’ll also build a huge storage tank to hold roughly 2 million gallons and contain the flow from the new pipe. This new tank will allow the city to treat more sewage before it goes into Salt Creek.

We also propose to increase the size of the Jackson Street sewer and upgrade the lift station at Saylor and Jackson with more capacity and a new standby generator.

Effectively, this will increase the capacity for the whole system. This new facility, in conjunction with an effort by residents to divert clean water from entering the sanitary sewer pipes, will provide protection up to the level of a 25-year storm event. In addition, reducing rain (clean) water from the sanitary system means we won’t have to pay to treat it. This saves all of us the tax dollars we otherwise use to treat the water.

What will this project cost and what is the timeline for implementation? We anticipate the entire project to cost roughly $6.5 million and be funded through general obligation bonds. We hope to submit plans to the Illinois EPA for permitting soon and to begin construction this summer. If that happens, we anticipate completing the project in the summer of 2014.

Details of this project still must be presented to the City Council, but I am very interested in your comments and thoughts. These long-awaited infrastructure upgrades can provide many Elmhurst residents great relief. Removing clear water from the system will save us all tax dollars in the long run. I fully endorse these projects but I want to hear what residents have to say as well. Please share your thoughts with me by submitting comments through my website: www.Diane2013.com

I want to applaud the council and the Public Works Committee for taking these initial steps to protect residents and keep Elmhurst a great place to live.

—Diane Gutenkauf, 1st Ward Alderman

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