Rethinking how people manage water is essential to building resilient communities. Innovative water policies and solutions can secure residences and businesses in the face of extreme weather events.

We promote practical changes in the way people manage water as a resource, changes that are good for residents, good for businesses, and good for the environment. Our solutions provide effective, replicable blueprints for water management and services. We also propose legislation and build alliances to promote more efficient and sustainable policies and practices.

The way we build cities makes them flood, even in modest rainstorms, because asphalt and concrete prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground. We call this urban flooding. Through programs like our RainReady℠ initiative, we help homeowners and municipalities save money by installing green infrastructure solutions like rain gardens and bioswales for stormwater management.

Too much water isn’t the only problem communities need to address to become more resilient. Many of the pipes that carry our drinking water are old and crumbling, causing us to lose trillions of gallons of expensive, treated water every year. Our research has made the case for fixing the leaks, and we promote policy and partnerships to help utilities adopt innovative practices to save our precious water resources.

How does this affect you? Our work has shown that:

  • There’s no correlation between urban flooding and living in a floodplain. Flooding can happen anywhere.
  • Across the country, we lose 2.1 trillion gallons of treated drinking water a year to aging, crumbling pipes.
  • Both urban flooding and water loss exact huge societal costs. Billions of dollars are lost each year because of inadequate stormwater and drinking water management, and the litter and toxins picked up by floodwaters in the streets often end up polluting lakes and streams.
  • Urban flooding disproportionately affects lower-income communities, and being affected by flooding can send people into poverty.
  • Heavy rainstorms, major droughts, and other serious weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe, so the problems of urban flooding and water loss will continue getting worse.
  • It will take an unprecedented collaboration between agencies that work on stormwater management to deal with urban flooding – a collaboration that our RainReady program is facilitating.


Featured Projects + Tools

“The Center for Neighborhood Technology's RainReady initiative continues this trend of building a more resilient Illinois by curbing flooding while providing support for residents and business-owners.”

Pat Quinn
Former Governor of Illinois

Research + Further Reading

RainReady Chatham Plan

February 22, 2017

The scope and severity of flood risk and flood-related damages in the Chatham community are among the worst in Cook County, Illinois. In September 2013, CNT began its Chatham program outreach through the RainReady initiative. This document is a product of this initiative, in partnership with resident leaders, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers, and CNT's funders and supporters. It builds upon our earlier publication, RainReady Chatham Phase One Report, and provides a comprehensive community-first plan that includes solutions on multiple scales: the individual property, the street and neighborhood, and the community. 


RainReady Midlothian Plan

January 8, 2016

What would a RainReady Midlothian look like? It would be a community where residents and businesses benefit from flood relief in a way that also brings neighborhood beautification, retail activity, jobs, recreation, and habitat conservation.

In order to better understand Midlothian’s flood risk, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Floodlothian Midlothian, and the Village of Midlothian joined together in January 2015. Throughout 2015, this group met monthly, hosted three community meetings, conducted a survey of 253 residents, and published the RainReady Midlothian Interim Report, an account of existing flood risk in the village. Together, we have established a shared vision for a RainReady Midlothian, summarized in this report.


RainReady Chatham Phase One Report

October 19, 2015

Chatham, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, has been susceptible to flooding since it was first developed in the 1860s. In January 2015, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and a group of neighborhood flood victims joined together to launch RainReady Chatham to look for solutions. This report presents the findings of our flood risk analysis and preliminary suggestions for how to fix Chatham's flooding problems.


RainReady Midlothian Interim Report

June 25, 2015

Since September 2014, CNT and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have been working closely with the Village of Midlothian and a variety of community and agency partners to assess the cause and characteristics of chronic urban flooding in Midlothian, a southwest suburb of Chicago. Data has been collected through a resident survey, expert analysis of existing storm sewer systems and watershed topography, a newly installed streamflow gage on Natalie Creek, as well as archived and recent precipitation data. This interim report summarizes and synthesizes these many sources of information collected to date, and begins to identify opportunities for intervention to support resilience in Midlothian.


A RainReady Nation: Protecting American Homes and Businesses in a Changing Climate

by CNT
January 22, 2015

As storms become increasingly destructive, homes and businesses face a heightened risk of urban flooding, even when they aren’t located in formally designated floodplains. CNT’s RainReady program offers innovative, cost-effective solutions to keep properties dry and help communities stay resilient in the face of a changing climate.


An Assessment of Water Loss Among Lake Michigan Permittees in Illinois

by Chicago Metropolian Agency for Planning (CMAP) and CNT
October 28, 2014

In 2012, over 22 billion gallons of Lake Michigan water, worth between an estimated $64 million and $147 million, were lost to leaky, aging infrastructure. CNT and CMAP studied the water loss control techniques used by Lake Michigan water suppliers and found that over the last several years, 21% of permittees have been out of compliance with the current 8% annual water loss standard set by Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). In addition to offering recommendations to IDNR, this report also acknowledges the challenges faced by utilities in tackling the water loss issue and provides manageable solutions specifically addressing available industry best practices.


The Prevalence and Cost of Urban Flooding

by CNT
May 14, 2013

First-of-its-kind analysis that combines insurance and FEMA claims data, property owner surveys, and GIS mapping of flooding in an urban environment. Part of a first phase of research at CNT on the prevalence and cost of flooding to property owners—such as homes and businesses—in urban and suburban areas. (Updated May 2014)