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Posted on: June 1, 2020

Stormwater Strategies for Homeowners

Shot to a sewer at the edge of sidewalk

The May 17 rain event in Riverside and throughout the Chicago area resulted in widespread flooding and sewer backups.  The Village is collecting data for further analysis. This data will be helpful in planning for future heavy rainfall and flooding events.  To help the village better understand exactly where flooding occurred please take a moment to complete the survey found here.  At this time, the Village does not have any resident grant programs for overhead sewers.  Additionally, Cook County is not issuing a disaster proclamation for the flooding event that occurred on May 17th, so unfortunately, this will not be a FEMA qualifying event.

In addition to installing a backflow prevention device or overhead sewers, residents can also take less costly steps to help manage stormwater and beautify their property.  According to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), rain gardens are vegetated depressions (small basins) that capture stormwater, allowing it to soak into the ground. They can typically be placed at a low point in your yard. Stormwater can be conveyed to a rain garden from downspouts or paved areas via pipes or vegetated swales (bioswales).  Bioswales are trenches lined with vegetation that direct water to a different location, treating the water along the way. Rain gardens are typically designed to drain ponding water within 24 hours and are often planted with native vegetation that can survive inundation for that length of time. Rain gardens remove pollutants as water filters through the soil to replenish the groundwater. The native plants in them attract beneficial insects and pollinators and provide beautiful flower displays throughout the growing season. 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is a great resource for rain garden plant suggestions.  IDNR maintains a list of native plants on their website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/education/Pages/PlantListRainGarden.aspx.  Many of these plants are well adapted to local conditions and support pollinators. This guide also provides native plant lists that are tailored to Cook County and the surrounding areas. These native plants do not grow very tall and should perform well in rain gardens.  Other excellent local resources for information on native plants and natural landscapes are:

West Cook Wild Ones, https://westcook.wildones.org/.  West Cook Wild Ones typically hosts a native plant sale in the Spring and a native tree and shrub sale in the Fall. 

The University of Illinois Extension https://extension.illinois.edu/cook/rain-gardens

Please also visit the Village website to view or download MWRD’s Green Neighbor Guide to learn more about residential stormwater management projects for homeowners such as disconnecting downspouts, using rain barrels, installing permeable pavement and dry wells.  Residents are also encouraged to view or download MWRD’s Understanding Your Sewer booklet to gain a better understanding of the village’s combined sewer system.

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