This month Chicago will have visitors from a cohort of Australian public works professionals stopping by the city before heading onto the American Public Works Association 2017 Congress, the annual conference for members of the public works industry. The group of Australian professionals will participate in a series of tours throughout the city visiting government agencies, public works and non-profits to garner an understanding of Public Works in the Chicago region.
Included in their tour throughout Chicagoland will be a meeting with Midlothian community leaders and staff and CNT staff members for a presentation and discussion of the community’s initiative to implement the RainReady Midlothian Plan, published by CNT.
CNT’s presentation will include an overview of the RainReady Community program and the critical role community partnerships played in providing multi-scale solutions to flood victims and their municipalities.
The RainReady Community planning process in Midlothian was a truly collaborative effort. Award-winning resident leadership first brought attention to the issue of flooding in Midlothian in 2013 when Helen Lekavich formed the organizing group Floodlothian Midlothian with her neighbors. In September of 2014, Floodlothian Midlothian partnered with Illinois General Representative Will Davis and CNT to bring together key decision makers from public agencies and community leaders. RainReady Midlothian draws upon the leadership of Helen Lekavich, her Floodlothian teammates, the Village of Midlothian Board of Trustees and Public Works Department, CNT, USACE, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD).
In 2015, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Floodlothian Midlothian, and the Village of Midlothian, CNT conducted a series of meetings and surveys to fully understand Midlothian’s risk. The findings established the village’s existing flood risk and were published in the RainReady Midlothian Interim Report.
With the RainReady Midlothian Interim Report as a basis, CNT developed a list of multi-scale interventions to address the issue of flooding within the village, documented in A Citizen’s Guide to a RainReady Midlothian and the RainReady Midlothian Plan. The lists of solutions for the Village of Midlothian and its residents enumerated in the Citizen’s Guide are accompanied by recommendations on how these strategies may be economically and equitably implemented. A number of these interventions have been implemented with the help of CNT and continue to be utilized as Midlothian progresses towards reducing its flood risk for the entirety of its community and its individual residents.
Through the RainReady process, Midlothian has positioned itself as a leader in collaborative and creative stormwater management planning. Nothing depicts Midlothian’s groundbreaking status more than the opportunity to present to international visitors who seek solutions to similar issues that promote environmental and economic stability while engaging civic and diverse participation. The tremendously impactful solutions offered by the RainReady program and modeled by its implementation in Midlothian Village can and should be replicated throughout the nation and the world.