The City of Highland Park has been working with both Lake and Cook Counties, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers on a long-term flood mitigation solution following several floods that devastated parts of Highland Park and dozens of communities throughout the region.
According to the city, a comprehensive regional study is necessary to identify opportunities to mitigate flooding occurring in the community. A preliminary study is anticipated to begin at the end of March, 2018 subject to approval by the participating agencies.
The Skokie and Middle Fork Rivers are under the jurisdiction of USACE, the Federal agency responsible for waterway-related capital projects, and flows through Lake and Cook Counties. Part of the preliminary study to be undertaken by the Corps is to determine if a feasibility study is required that will entail a flood protection solution for all communities along the river.
If a final feasibility study is undertaken, the potential solutions could result in a combination of storage basins, retaining walls, pump stations, buy-outs, and other measures. USACE estimates it will take nine months to complete the preliminary study. The construction phase takes anywhere from 7-10 years after initiation of a study.
“We know that action to mitigate flooding in our communities is overdue,” said Mayor Nancy R. Rotering. “The City of Highland Park has taken the lead and has been advocating for local solutions at all levels of government. While we are frustrated by the process, we are hopeful that a coordinated solution is possible.”
Since last summer, the group has reviewed several current programs and options including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, localized storage reservoir solution efforts in cooperation with Lake County and the North Branch Chicago River Watershed group, and dredging the Skokie River.