After about two years of planning and construction, DuPage County officials on Thursday showed off a roughly $5 million project targeting flooding in Bartlett's southwest side, where heavy rains poured into businesses and homes in 2008.
"It feels especially good to be able to tell our nearby residents … that they can rest easier when they look out their window and see storm clouds coming," Mayor Kevin Wallace said.
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Crews installed more than 2,100 feet of pipe under Stearns Road to alleviate drainage problems at Route 59 and Stearns. Excess water flows from Beaver Pond into a new storage basin north of the intersection and within Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve.
There, water filters through wetland plants -- which pick up "sediment, pollutants and contaminants" -- before funneling into Brewster Creek, said forest preserve Commissioner Shannon Burns.
"It's much cleaner water, and that clean water helps support habitat in the area," said Burns, adding that the surrounding land is home to more than 1,000 native plants and animals.
DuPage County paid for the design and construction through a $20 million borrowing plan approved in 2010.
"It wasn't an easy sell at the county at the time," said Jim Zay, chairman of the county board's stormwater committee. "(It) was a tough economic time. The economy was down, and for governments to take on debt, it was a big issue."
In September 2008, floods drenched Bartlett, damaging homes and prompting the then-mayor to declare a state of emergency. In some cases, 5 feet of water filled basements.
"It took weeks for the water to subside," Zay said. "There were major problems there."
Engineers began designing in 2011. Construction started last year.
"It's going to make a substantial difference," Zay said.