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La Grange Park targets flooding issues with state grant

Published: Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 11:08 a.m. CDT

LA GRANGE PARK – A $416,500 state grant will allow the village to reimburse residents for disconnecting gutter downspouts from the sewer system, decreasing the amount of chemicals that flow into Salt Creek after floods. 

With the Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant, issued by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the village will be able to reimburse residents who spend more than $50 to disconnect their homes' downspouts from the sewer system. When the grant takes effect, likely next spring, the Village Board will pass an ordinance requiring all residents to do so, Public Works Director Brendan McLaughlin said. 

"The intent of the grant is to reduce the chemicals that come from rooftops that would wind up in Salt Creek during flooding situations," he said. "It has the second benefit that it reduces the amount of flow into the sewer."

A 2011 survey showed that 47 percent of village homes had downspouts connected to sewers. A village ordinance currently requires residents selling their homes to disconnect gutters from the sewer system, but the requirement will soon apply to all homeowners.

McLaughlin said the project is usually simple – the bottom of the gutter is sawed off and replaced with an extension that runs into the yard – and costs less than $50. But residents with more complicated gutter systems might need to spend more than $50. The grant will alleviate any cost difference, to a yet-to-be-determined limit, McLaughlin said.

During heavy rains, chemicals from chunks of roofs can wind up in creeks when sewers overflow. After 1,900 homes remove their downspouts, the EPA estimates a 90 percent decrease in such suspended solids, or a decrease of 4.25 tons annually, throughout the village.

It also projects reductions in the accumulation of phosphorus, nitrogen and heavy metals like copper, lead and zinc, McLaughlin said. 

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