ELMHURST – The Public Works and Buildings Committee decided on a new residential rear-yard drain program that the Elmhurst City Council could vote on Monday.
The new program – if approved – applies to all connections to the city storm sewer, not just connections participating in the cost-sharing program. In order to obtain a city permit to connect sump pumps, downspouts or yard drains to the city storm system, homeowners will have to meet criteria created by city staff and the committee.
"By us putting this framework in place, we're going to have the ability to look at every one of these projects ... and we may be able to help a resident see something that they've never even considered," said committee Chairman and 6th Ward Alderman Jim Kennedy, who attended Monday's meeting via Skype.
City staff created a criteria for each type of connection to be evaluated. When a homeowner applies for a permit to connect to the city's storm sewer, staff would evaluate each case based on a series of conditions. Sump pumps could connect, for instance, if the pump's discharge creates slippery ice or algae on a public right of way and the pump cannot be redirected.
"As much as I want to say I don't ever want anybody to connect into the system directly again, I'm coming around to the point ... that's not feasible," First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf said.
Committee members decided to differentiate between the reasons residents want to connect to the city's storm sewer. Those with problems affecting public safety or flooding that threatens an entrance to their home or a neighbor's home would qualify for the cost-sharing program.
"Quality of life, yeah, I want to help you with it, but not to the same degree I want to help a safety or a flooding issue," Fifth Ward Alderman Chris Healy said.
Assuming homeowners meet all criteria, the city would reimburse them 50 percent of the cost to make connections up to $1,000.
Those with quality of life issues such as wet spots in the yard can also participate in the cost-sharing program, but would qualify for a 50 percent reimbursement up to $500. In order to qualify for 50 percent up to the $1,000 maximum, homeowners with quality of life stormwater issues would need to implement an alternate water management strategy before connecting.
"I can go along with this thought process if it's more of a permanent solution," Third Ward Alderman Michael Bram said.
The committee members agreed the longer a solution can be in place, the better. Alternate water management strategies could include rain gardens, re-engineering soils or other options. Committee members wanted to keep the solutions open by not creating a specific list. This leaves room for future technologies to be included in the program.
"This gives every single person who wants to connect and comes to the city for a permit to connect [a need for] justification, which they don't need to do now," Gutenkauf said.
The committee plans to submit a report recommending the new program at Monday's City Council meeting.
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Number to know
16: Direct storm sewer connections made through the cost-sharing program in 2013, including yard drains, sump pumps and downspouts or some combination of the three