Addison Creek Reservoir Officially Opens

Local, state and federal elected officials cut the ribbon on the new Addison Creek Reservoir on Aug. 11. The $81 million project includes control and inlet structures, a spillway and a pumping station. | Courtesy MWRD

August 28, 2023 | By Michael Romain 

Local elected officials across Proviso Township gathered on Aug. 11 to officially open the massive Addison Creek Reservoir at 2795 Washington Blvd. in Bellwood. 

According to officials with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), the agency that guided the project, the 600-acre-foot reservoir includes control and inlet structures, a spillway and a pumping station. 

When they broke ground in 2019, MWRD officials said the reservoir would store close to 200 million gallons of water and connect with the Addison Creek Channel, which is scheduled to undergo a range of improvements that include vegetation clearing, the removal of three bridges and design changes. 

The improvements will be constructed along the Addison Creek Channel that runs roughly three miles through Northlake, Stone Park, Melrose Park, Bellwood, Westchester and Broadview. 

“This reservoir will provide a newfound sense of security for whenever it rains,” said MWRD President Kari K. Steele at the Aug. 11 ribbon-cutting for the new reservoir. “It will also reduce future insurance costs for many residents.” 

Steele said the ribbon-cutting event also served as a kickoff for those channel improvements, “which will be connected to the reservoir by 2026. So, this is a ribbon-cutting and a groundbreaking wrapped in one.” 

Steele said the reservoir would reduce overbank flooding for approximately 2,200 properties in those six Proviso suburbs and that approximately 1,700 properties would be removed from the floodplain. 

MWRD officials said the reservoir cost $81 million to build and will provide $116 million in flood benefits. The project was partially funded through $5 million in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program (CDBG-DR) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Cook County.

“There is nothing better than being in my hometown in Bellwood where we have been talking about flooding since I was a little kid,” said Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) at the Aug. 11 ribbon-cutting. “I am so proud of the commissioners at the MWRD for listening and acting. This reservoir will ensure that our communities are safe and help mitigate the risk of floods; it will also help erosion and benefit our local ecosystems, which means we are doing our part to take care of the planet. These projects will help replenish groundwater, create habitats for wildlife, improve agricultural productivity and improve water quality.” 

The Bellwood reservoir and Addison Creek Channel improvements are among a series of flood mitigation projects – large and small – happening across Proviso Township as severe weather events caused by climate change become increasingly more common. 

For instance, representatives from Maywood, Cook County, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and MWRD embarked last year on the first phase of the I-290 Corridor Storm Sewer Separation Project, which will involve the construction of separate storm sewers in the area designed to prevent basement backups and provide relief to more than 336 residential structures in Maywood that are near the Eisenhower Expressway, officials said. 

And in Broadview, workers are wrapping up construction on a new permeable paver surface that will replace the old asphalt parking lot. Village Free Press previously reported that the pavers “are designed to allow water to drain into the soil beneath the lot instead of going into the sewer system. With the replacement of a 2,000-square-foot surface, the village expects approximately 60,000 gallons of stormwater will be diverted from the village’s combined sewer system during rain events.” 

According to an assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), climate change is “expected to intensify storms and lead to greater precipitation across the entire [Midwest] region during this century. 

“Annual precipitation has already risen by as much as 20% in some areas. Projections of future precipitation indicate that heavy downpours are likely to occur primarily in winter and spring months while summers will become drier, especially in the southern portion of the region.” 

Most recently, much of Chicago and the suburbs experienced record-setting rain that devastated basements across Cook County, particularly those in predominantly Black communities such as the city’s Westside. Two days before the reservoir ribbon-cutting, on Aug. 15, President Joe Biden officially approved a disaster declaration for Cook County, making residents affected by flooding eligible for a range of federal resources. 

The extreme weather is forcing many Proviso Township suburbs to devise long-term strategies for confronting the climate. Last year, dozens of west suburban mayors signed a memorandum of understanding that signals their commitment to joining the Cross-Community Climate Collaborative (C4), an initiative that puts participating suburbs on the hook for achieving a 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

Broadview has updated its ordinances and implemented a range of initiatives to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels and drive electric vehicles, among other green activities. Last year, Westchester created an Ecological Commission to address environmental concerns. 

More recently, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced that Bellwood was one of five suburbs selected to participate in the Climate Resiliency Planning for Communities Program spearheaded by the County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability (DES). Franklin Park, Justice, Lynwood, and Markham were also selected. 

The $16 million program provides technical assistance, funding and staff resources for communities that don’t have an updated Climate Resiliency Plan. 

“Recent extreme weather events have again reminded us that the climate is changing quickly and communities must act now to be prepared. Resiliency plans help ensure residents and businesses can thrive in the face of these changes,” President Preckwinkle explained in an Aug. 15 statement

“The plans will be developed through engagement with residents and community leaders and designed with an equity lens to ensure the most vulnerable populations are not left behind,” she said. 

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