Storing 13 million gallons of water: Project on schedule to curb flooding in Mundelein
A multifaceted project to reduce flooding and protect property near downtown Mundelein is about 65% complete and is ahead of schedule.
Huge underground pipes and other measures to better channel stormwater away from streets and homes have been installed and the focus now is on shaping a large area to store it.
When complete, the big hole being dug on the site of a former guitar factory at 444 E. Courtland St. will hold 13 million gallons of water, the equivalent of filling a football field, including the end zones, 30 feet high.
That description is one way to envision the enormous volume and the magnitude of an ongoing $6.8 million project to relieve flooding that has plagued some neighborhoods west of Route 45 for 70 years.
"Simply put, it is a lot of water," said Adam Boeche, the village's director of public works and engineering.
Crews with heavy equipment have been busy, and during the next several months, 64,000 cubic yards of earth will be removed from the roughly 16-acre site of the former U.S. Music Corp.
Eventually, a sloped pool called a detention area will be shaped to hold stormwater coming from the west and solve a long-standing problem.
"In place of that guitar factory, we are digging a giant hole to put all this water we're going to have to channel over there," Mayor Steve Lentz said recently during a virtual town hall hosted by the GLMV Chamber of Commerce.
The Western Slope drainage project is named after the neighborhood west of Route 45, built after World War II before ordinances to regulate stormwater were enacted.
Underground pipes that carried water to the east beneath Route 45 and to the Seavey ditch, which drains a 1,220-acre area, are not big enough to handle heavy rain and often have been overwhelmed.
A lack of space to store the water also was cited as a major contributor to flooding, according to an analysis commissioned by the village.
This chronic problem reached critical mass in July 2017 when 6.2 inches of rain fell in 16 hours. The area, particularly the intersection of Division Street and Route 45, was inundated.
The result was a multifaceted plan to reduce flooding.
The groundwork began in May when 6-foot-diameter storm sewers were installed along Division Street from Memorial Park to Lake Street (Route 45) to work in tandem with the existing pipes, Boeche said.
That and associated work is complete on both sides of Route 45. The two sides will be connected in the spring, and it is hoped the entire system, including the detention area, will be running next summer.
Other future aspects of the stormwater management plan include a bike path, park and the extension of Hawthorne Drive.