Shared-cost flood control plan discussed at city committee hearing
by BRIAN NADIG
A proposed shared-cost flood control plan would provide up to $4,000 for Chicago homeowners looking to prevent sewer backup in basements during heavy rain.
Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) said that city officials are hoping to carve out $5 million in the city’s annual multi-billion dollar capital budget as part of the cost-sharing program. He said that it typically costs homeowners from $7,000 to $9,000 to install a flood control system designed to help prevent flooded basements.
The program would be for the first 1,250 homeowners who enroll during a designated enrollment period, similar to the city’s shared-cost sidewalk program, Napolitano said of the tentative plans.
Under the program, the installation would have to be from a license and bonded plumber, and the work would be inspected by the city, Napolitano said.
“We know hundreds, if not thousands, of permits are pulled to have these (flood-control systems) installed on a yearly basis,” Napolitano said.
In June Napolitano introduced an ordinance calling for the city Department of Water Management to design a shared-cost program for flood control.
“Our next step is we’re trying to find the funds for this and get into a solid ordinance,” he said.
The City Council Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development at its Aug. 18 meeting held a hearing on Napolitano’s proposed ordinance. Northwest Side aldermen co-sponsoring the ordinance are Gilbert Villegas (36th), Nicholas Sposato (38th), Samantha Nugent (39th) and James Gardiner (45th).
At the hearing, a 41st Ward resident testified that his basement has flooded twice in the past 2 years because the city’s sewer system could not handle all of the storm water, causing $12,000 in damage.
The resident added that the flooding occurred after the completion of a sewer improvement project in his neighborhood that was supposed to help alleviate the problem.
Napolitano said that on one block in his ward about a dozen homes have had a control system installed or are in the process of doing so.
Effective measures include the installation of an overhead sewer control system which diverts sewage to a new line running near the basement ceiling or a check valve system which is designed to stop a sewage backflow, he said.