LISLE – Lisle officials are considering a flood policy that would prioritize purchasing and protecting homes along the East Branch of the DuPage River, rather than investing in the waterway's levee.
The Village Board met Monday to discuss the policy, which they anticipate voting on in the coming months.
The levee, which primarly follows the river from Middleton Avenue to the railroad tracks on both sides and continues to Maple Avenue on the east, was built by the state in the early 1960s after the village flooded four times in the 12 years leading up to its construction, according to village documents.
Without it, Lisle could have experienced floods comparable to those seen in 2013 as many as seven times, said staff engineer and stormwater administrator Marilyn Sucoe.
The levee, which Sucoe said in a later interview has met or exceeded its lifespan, is in need of $8 million in foundation and stream bank stabilization.
“At some point, the levee could have a failure,” she said.
This could cause flash flooding, she said, damaging the levee permanently and leading to increasingly frequent annual floods.
Resident Mary Ann Johnson, who lives on floodplain property, spoke Monday against the proposed policy being discussed.
“I think, in good conscience, you have to consider taking over maintenance of the levee,” she said. “You need to do this for the citizens and the residents of Lisle to keep them safe.”
However, the village does not own the levee and under the proposed policy, it would not pursue ownership, Sucoe said.
The property lining the levee is largely residential, she said. Of the 70 lots along the levee north of the train tracks, the government has access to 21.
After a study in 2012 revealed the extent of the work needed to maintain the levee, the village sought to purchase $1,500 easements from the residents living on its border, but Sucoe said homeowners were largely unresponsive.
Instead of maintaining the levee, she said, village officials are now seeking $3 million from FEMA and an additional $1 million in community matching funds to acquire or elevate homes in the river's floodplains.
The village hopes to purchase or elevate at least 25 of the estimated 150 homes, Sucoe said, and will target property owners whose homes sustained 50 percent or more in damage in the April 2013 floods.
Lisle is pursuing the matching funds through the DuPage County Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Assistance program and is optimistic about receiving aid, she said.