Niles and surrounding communities had been plagued by flooding since the 1970s. The issue came to a head when, in September 2008, the area experienced record rainfall of about 9.5 inches in 15 hours. The region was declared a federal disaster area when the resulting flooding overwhelmed local and regional sewer systems and caused an estimated $1.5 million in damage.
Solution: The creation of a comprehensive Stormwater Relief Program.
HOW THEY DID IT
Niles Mayor Robert Callero drafted then-Assistant Village Manager Steven Vinezeano as lead staff member of a Stormwater Commission.
Phase One began in February 2009. The commission established a study methodology for data collection and mapping using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and gathered information from homeowners.
In September, the commission’s first report offered recommendations for reducing runoff, updating legislation, reevaluating system operations, and short- and long-term capital programs.
In 2010, the village hired an engineering firm to work with the commission on analyzing the data collected from several floods. Their June 2012 report recommended the creation of a Stormwater Relief Program to:
- Update village ordinances and codes to meet county, state, and federal standards so future development didn’t have a negative impact on stormwater management for existing homes and businesses.
- Map the sewer system on GIS and institute a multiyear maintenance plan.
- Outline capital improvement projects that could be carried out without significant engineering and construction.
- Offer immediate cost share assistance of up to $4,000 to homeowners experiencing chronic sewer backup or overland flooding.
As a result of these efforts Niles has paid out more than $1.5 million in aid to more than 400 homeowners through a Flood Control Assistance Program. Three major Tier I capital projects, in addition to the largest infrastructure project in the village’s history, have been completed.
Working with FEMA and Cook County, Niles has also developed an approved Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Village now participates in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System with a quality CRS of 6.
Currently the Stormwater Commission is in the process of updating the 2012 Stormwater Relief Program at an estimated cost of $50,000.
- Be straight with residents, even when it gets tough.
- Act on urgent issues swiftly and report accomplishments to the public.
- If you think something is impossible, think again.
- Nurture contacts with regional, state, and federal agencies— you may learn of valuable funding opportunities.
This program was a 2016 recipient of an ICMA Local Government Excellence Award in Community Health and Safety.