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posted: 3/29/2012 4:18 PM

Elk Grove seeks grant for Busse dam study

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Elk Grove Village is seeking a $750,000 state grant to complete engineering and environmental impact studies for the Busse Dam project aimed at alleviating flooding along Salt Creek in Cook and DuPage counties.

The village board this week authorized its staff to apply for a Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program grant.

Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson said he is optimistic the grant will come through quickly because the project has the backing of multiple governmental jurisdictions.

Salt Creek flooding affects as many as 20 communities, most in DuPage County, like Addison, Elmhurst, Itasca, Roselle and Wood Dale.

Johnson said he working with the leaders of those communities to share in the estimated cost for the dam modification, which could be between $2 million and $5 million.

The project is the result of a feasibility study conducted by the village last year on a proposal by the Friends of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

The Friends suggest building an adjustable dam to replace the main dam at Busse Woods Reservoir -- built in 1976 to contain floodwater primarily from DuPage County -- as an alternative to an earlier proposal to expand the reservoir capacity.

A group of Northwestern University engineering students came up with the alternate solution for the Friends.

The reservoir was designed to hold water in the forest preserves, but the water continually floods homes, businesses, and heavily-traveled roadways such as Devon Avenue.

Elk Grove's feasibility study found that out of 158 historic storms since 1950, Salt Creek has flooded 37 times, and 20 of those flood events could have been avoided with the proposed dam adjustment.

The idea is to manually lower the level of Busse Lake, which feeds into Salt Creek, before heavy rainstorms to allow the reservoir to hold more water, which could then be released at a slower pace. To achieve that, the dam, located off Cosman Road, would have to be modified because it is locked and welded at its lowest elevation.

With heavy rainfall, the water level in the reservoir rises about a foot, which then gushes downstream at roughly 200 cubic feet per second. Salt Creek itself has capacity to hold 1,000 cubic feet of water per second before it reaches flood stage.

Officials would lower the dam when it starts to rain to allow the creek to get to 1,000 cubic feet per second quickly. When the creek reaches its capacity, then the dam would be raised to contain any excess stormwater, Johnson said.

The environmental impact and preliminary engineering studies could begin this spring and be completed before the year end, Johnson said.

"We hope to get this (dam) up and operational for fall 2013," he added.

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