Nearly two years after a massive rain flooded many homes in Arlington Heights, the village board on Monday informally approved spending nearly $300,000 for a comprehensive study of the sewer system and flooding issues. Results of the study and recommended solutions are still several months away, however.
The Arlington Heights committee of the whole recommended a study proposal from CDM Smith not to exceed $285,781. The study is expected to take six months. The full village board will formally approve the proposal next Monday.
"This is the comprehensive study we've talked about since July 2011," said Public Works Director Scott Shirley.
Although the village has been criticized for moving too slowly on flooding fixes, Shirley said the public works department has been reviewing proposals from four different firms to do the study for the past 18 months because of the complexity of the project. Although the CDM proposal was not the lowest bid, public works officials said the firm had the necessary experience to handle the complexity of the study.
The study will collect and analyze data about the village's sewer system, characterize the 2011 flood event, and look at if the Arlington Heights system is designed to withstand up to 10-year-level storm events, as officials believe. At the end of data collection, the firm will present several fixes with a variety of costs attached to them, Shirley said.
"I'm looking forward to the answers, but I'm also not looking forward to the answers," Trustee John Scaletta said, because of the costs associated with any needed long-term fixes.
Paying for the study, which was planned in this year's budget, is one thing, but paying for large-scale improvements that the study may recommend, is another, officials said.
"There is no funding available for any large-scale improvements," Shirley said. "If we decide to proceed with any improvements there will have to be a discussion of how it will get paid for."
Trustee Carol Blackwood expressed frustration at the length of process and said she wanted to do more to help residents now.
Blackwood suggested taking the money that will be spent on a study and spending it instead on overhead sewers for residents who need it most, but Trustee John Scaletta reminded her that would help fewer than 20 residents.
One solution Shirley said residents can take advantage of is installing overhead sewers on their homes, The village offers program that pays for 50 percent of the project up to $7,500.
Blackwood and other trustees said they are expecting more out of the study than solutions they already know about.
"I wouldn't want to spend $300,000 to hear that people need overhead sewers. I want to hear more than that," Blackwood said. "But at the end of the day we don't have the money to pay for it."