CNT Launches Neighborhood Stormwater Management Initiative on the North Side of Chicago
The goal of a new CNT water project, the Good Neighbor Challenge, is to demonstrate that committed residents can manage stormwater runoff and improve local waterways without huge financial outlays by public agencies. Staff from CNT’s water program are busy identifying 300 residents in three communities (Albany Park, Rogers Park and Wilmette) who are committed to addressing the flooding problem by retrofitting their neighborhoods for wet weather with features like rain gardens and disconnected downspouts.
Over the past 12 years, CNT has worked with community residents and leaders to construct approximately 35 individual green infrastructure projects that effectively manage stormwater to reduce flooding in basements and yards. However, for green infrastructure measures to be most effective, they need to be installed at scale in a neighborhood or community. To that end, CNT is working to demonstrate that dozens, and ultimately thousands, of people can work together to reduce flooding heartaches and hazards in their neighborhoods.
CNT selected the Village of Wilmette and Chicago neighborhoods of Albany Park and Rogers Parke because they have the same water drainage pathways to the North Branch of the Chicago River. More than 600 Wilmette families live in the floodplain of the Skokie River tributary of the river’s North Branch. Drainage from Wilmette contributes to the serious flooding in homes eight miles downstream in Albany Park. Albany Park also faces flooding from Rogers Park, whose stormwater also drains into the North Branch, which cuts through Albany Park.
Flooding in Albany Park is one big problem; another one is that during major storms, the flow of the North Shore Channel is reversed to drain into Lake Michigan at the Wilmette Harbor. Because most communities in the Chicago region have a combined sewer system, the discharges into Wilmette Harbor contaminate the harbor and beaches along the lake front with raw sewage.
Although the project is just getting started, CNT has already uncovered a strong interest from residents who are concerned about flooding in the area. CNT has held three public events so far, and more than 100 residents want to get involved.
Throughout the rest of the summer, CNT plans to organize additional meetings to expand the interest in the program and develop strategies in each community. Sign up for the CNT newsletter to stay on top of this project and other water program activities as they happen.