On June 26, 2012, the Village of Niles Board of Trustees approved one of the most significant public works projects in the history of the Village - the Stormwater Commission recommended Stormwater Relief Program, consisting of a much needed capital projects program and flood control assistance totaling nearly $15,000,000.
The Stormwater Commission was created in October of 2008 shortly after flood disaster recovery operations were winding down from the regions worst flood in recorded history. This commission, created by me in direct response to strong resident demand, was given the task of determining not only why the September 2008 flood was so disastrous, but more importantly why so many residents continually suffer from flooding in much lesser rains. The commission was to return the Board of Trustees with their findings and recommendations.
Under the leadership of Trustee Joe Lo Verde, who was appointed as Chair due to his extensive knowledge of sewer systems, the commission presented their initial findings and recommendations on September 22, 2009. During that year while preparing their findings, the commission was conducting extensive data collection, meeting with hundreds of residents, conducting surveys, workshops and plotting flooding data never before recorded. All in an effort to get the most accurate findings possible to serve as the basis for established recommendations of which 94% have been completed to date.
During the commission’s initial year, twelve key stormwater ordinances were adopted, a homeowner education program was developed, the paper sewer atlases were digitized for GIS, and eight “out-of-the-box” drainage projects were implemented in cooperation with property owners of large properties adjacent to properties suffering from runoff flooding.
The most significant recommendation provided by the Stormwater Commission in 2009 was to employ a professional stormwater engineering firm to conduct sewer modeling, analysis and recommend capital improvements to help stop the most persistent and damaging flooding identified. In 2010, after an extensive RFQ process with 19 engineering firms, the commission chose the very professional and capable firm of Hey and Associates to take the Village of Niles to the next level toward a final plan.
Using state-of-the-art modeling software, Hey and Associates conducted a detailed technical study of the commission’s report, the village’s sewer system, and local topography to identify flood risks and diagnose stormwater problems. This allowed them to prepare and recommend the Stormwater Relief Program just approved by the Board of Trustees.
It is important to note that Hey and Associates is also responsible for the village’s first Stormwater Management Ordinance adopted last year and that they were instrumental in the village’s award of a $202,000 IEPA grant for a “green” stormwater project near Neva and Touhy.
As stated earlier, the Village of Niles Board of Trustees approved one of the most significant public works projects in the history of the village that will reduce reported basement backups, reduce residential property loss, improve public health, improve property values, and simply improve the quality of life of all our residents.
So what is next? The Village Board of Trustees has approved two significant resolutions on Tuesday: 1. $14,560,000 in Tier One Capital Improvement Projects that target the most frequent and concentrated flooding, thereby also benefiting the greatest number of properties; and 2. $300,000 in Flood Control Assistance to help residents currently suffering from sewage backup and overland flooding.
The funding for these programs was approved by the Board of Trustees in January of this year through a .25% sales tax increase.
Our next step for the Tier One Capital Improvement Projects is to secure an engineering contract to conduct preliminary engineering. We expect to return to the Board of Trustees in July with a recommendation.
Our next step for the Flood Control Assistance Program is to finalize the implementation and application process for publication in the Fall Focus on Niles newsletter. We anticipate an open two month application period. A few of the requirements for those who would like to pursue this program are:
- A completed Flood Control Assistance Program Application (not available yet)
- Proof of Ownership and Occupancy
- Evidence the lateral is functioning properly
- Proof of previous sewer backup or overland flooding
- Three detailed proposals / quotes from a contractor