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Government

Downers Grove officials meet with Deer Creek residents to discuss flooding solutions

Several Deer Creek subdivision residents call on professionals to perform flood cleanup work after heavy rainfall in October 2017. Potential flooding solutions were discussed with village of Downers Grove officials during a Deer Creek Homeowners Association meeting March 9.
Several Deer Creek subdivision residents call on professionals to perform flood cleanup work after heavy rainfall in October 2017. Potential flooding solutions were discussed with village of Downers Grove officials during a Deer Creek Homeowners Association meeting March 9.

DOWNERS GROVE – Residents of the Deer Creek subdivision came away from a March 9 homeowners association meeting with Downers Grove officials cautiously optimistic the village is committed to resolving flooding problems that have plagued the area.

About 50 Deer Creek residents turned out for the meeting, which was at a Westmont pizzeria. Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully and commissioner Bill White attended the meeting, which featured comments from several residents and a preview of the steps the village is taking to rectify the problem.

Jim Smalley, a spokesman for the residents, said the less formal setting was important.

“I think the setting probably helped,” Smalley said. “They understand it’s an issue. It wasn’t one person saying that something has to get done. I think they understand that.”

Smalley and Deer Creek resident Maggie Maier on several occasions have represented neighborhood concerns at Downers Grove Village Council meetings.

Several residents who attended the meeting stressed the impact floodwater has on their homes rather than focusing on flooded streets, Smalley said.

“If the streets flood, that’s one thing,” he said. “If the house floods, that’s another.”

White said the meeting was a success.

"The residents expressed considerable frustration, which was expected and is understandable,” White said in an email. “I believe there was general acceptance that a fast or easy solution does not exist. However, I also came away with the strong sense that the village needs to stay focused on working toward an eventual long-term solution.”

Tully and White outlined the village's plans designed to improve stormwater management in the subdivision. The project is intended to enhance the flow of runoff during minor to moderate storm events.

Specific improvements will be identified as part of a stormwater report to be completed in July, according to a March 2 village memo. Specific plans will be prepared in late 2018, and work is expected to begin in 2019, the memo stated.

In the meantime, village staff will clear landscaping material and brush from the creek west of Deerpath Lane during the summer – an improvement Smalley believes will have a significant impact.

The village also is evaluating long-term floodplain improvements for the subdivision that would include constructing additional floodplain storage and improving conveyance. The improvements, if any, are expected to take a minimum of five years, according to the memo.

Village staff has asked DuPage County Stormwater Management to prepare a large watershed study for regional storage and modifications to the culvert system. The county’s response is expected by the end of March.

“These drainage projects will improve the flow of runoff during minor to moderate rain events but will not prevent flooding of the flood way or flood plain during significant rain events,” White said in an email.

He said floodplain issues are complex, with many overlapping challenges.

“It's a difficult project simply from a civil engineering perspective," White said. "Locating funding will be challenging, and jurisdictional overlap issues add to the complexity."

White added other stormwater management proposals under consideration by the Village Council would not help Deer Creek.

"Deer Creek is fully built out, and no part of the village is upstream from Deer Creek," he said.

Smalley, who has advocated for improved flood control in Deer Creek for many years, remains guarded about the the village's plans.

"The proof still has to be in the pudding," he said. "We have to see the action take place."

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