Part of Libertyville's flood mitigation plan delayed by coronavirus concerns

A central piece of a $1.65 million project to hold and disperse stormwater in one of Libertyville's flood-prone areas has been delayed due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Citing its potential impact on breathing, village officials are postponing a controlled burn to remove invasive species at Charles Brown Park on the southwest side of town, part of a project to enhance drainage and the capacity of a reservoir there.

The controlled burn over nearly 11 acres is needed to create a native plant wetland area, but given the ongoing fight to control the spread of the respiratory illness, village leaders this month deferred that portion of the project until fall or next spring.

"I have a serious concern with us authorizing a burn that could affect people's respiration during this process," Mayor Terry Weppler said.

"Just for everybody's health and particularly in that southern quadrant of Libertyville, I think it makes sense to suspend it," added Trustee Scott Adams.

Delaying the burn won't have an immediate or extensive impact on the intended purpose of the project, Public Works Director Paul Kendzior said.

The Charles Brown reservoir stores stormwater from the flood-prone Highlands subdivision, which was submerged during the historic flood of 2017. The 550-acre tributary area includes Ames, Burdick, Carter, Dawes and Drake streets as well as Crane Boulevard and Rockland Road.

Grading the bottom and side slopes of the reservoir increased its capacity about 14% to 84 acre feet. An acre foot is the volume of a foot of water covering 1 acre of area.

Also as part of the project, four storm sewer outfalls into the reservoir were replaced and three sediment forebays built.

Forebays essentially are settling basins that prevent silt from building up in the reservoir and the storm sewer segments that discharge into the basin, Kendzior said.

The improvements will allow those sewers to operate more effectively and efficiently because silt build up has been eliminated, he added.

Stormwater from the reservoir is pumped into the Seavey Drainage Ditch, a 5-mile channel that originates in Mundelein and flows to Indian Creek and the Des Plaines River.

Besides the burn, the only work left for the Charles Brown project is replacing three high-flow pumps and one low-flow pump that have reached the end of their useful lives. That work is scheduled for the end of May.

In related work involving the Highlands subdivision, the village in the coming year plans to complete engineering to replace existing storm sewer lines with larger ones and provide stormwater storage in a portion of the Nicholas Dowden Park-South.

A villagewide stormwater master plan outlines $45.5 million in improvements, but the coronavirus pandemic has altered that as well.

A proposed stormwater utility fee is still being considered but scheduling has been delayed, said Finance Director Nick Mostardo.

An important consideration likely will be weighing the cost of such a fee during this economic crisis versus the need to make stormwater improvements, he added.

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Construction of "forebays" as part of the Charles Brown reservoir restoration project on the southwest side of Libertyville is complete, but another aspect of the project to relieve flooding in the area has been delayed due to the coronavirus. Courtesy of village of Libertyville
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