Alternative Flood Control Measures within the Combined Sewer Area

Alternative Flood Control Measures within the Combined Sewer Area

Chicago, Illinois
United States

Greeley and Hansen, A TYLin Company, collaborated with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to identify and evaluate innovative stormwater management opportunities.

Solutions include green infrastructure, best management practices, optimizing or repurposing existing infrastructure to reduce flooding and stormwater damage as well as improving water quality of local water bodies.

Since the 1960’s, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (District) has been at the forefront of implementing Chicago’s flood control storage reservoirs and stream improvement projects. Increasing urbanization of the Chicago area coupled with increasing frequency of severe storm events has raised concerns of flooding within the city and surrounding suburbs. The issue of escalating severity of storm events and undersized conveyance sewer pipes call for innovative solutions to support aging sanitary and stormwater systems within the Chicago area.

One concept evaluated was an 8-foot diameter Chicago Department of Water Management potable water tunnel that was abandoned in late 2013 due to roadway improvements. The tunnel was installed in 1907 and had been in continuous operation for over 100 years. In the past abandoned water tunnels in Chicago have been bulkheaded and abandoned, rendering the infrastructure virtually useless. Instead of allowing this tunnel to remain bulkheaded, Greeley and Hansen evaluated the feasibility of repurposing this century-old water tunnel. Spanning over 3 miles, with a potential storage volume of up to 6 million gallons, the repurposed water tunnel will act as the world’s largest rain barrel by harvesting 1,000,000 square feet of rooftop rainwater from adjacent buildings. Rainwater will be stored during the storm event, and later pumped out for non-potable purposes.

Utilizing a consolidated rain barrel reduces the need for continuous stakeholder maintenance can achieve results without the lag time of wide-spread community participation. 

Project Highlights: 

  • Repurposing existing infrastructure 
  • Innovative strategies to address increased stormwater and climate resilience 
  • Reduction of flooding while protecting water quality