Michael Hoffmann has spent years trying to convince DuPage County officials that the best way to prevent flooding where he lives in Warrenville is to remove a dam designed to keep Naperville properties dry.
So it should come as no surprise that flooding is the top issue motivating Hoffmann to run for Warrenville mayor against incumbent David Brummel in the April 9 election.
"People don't realize the magnitude of the problem here in town," Hoffmann said. "And until they actually see the water flowing in through their doors or basement windows, they won't know."
The 55-year-old semiretired electrician says he believes Warrenville's flooding problems are partially caused by Fawell Dam, which DuPage County operates along the DuPage River's west branch, in the McDowell Grove Forest Preserve near Naperville.
But Brummel says city officials have thoroughly studied that claim and are working with the county on a list of projects to alleviate flooding. Fawell Dam doesn't need to be removed, he said.
"We're doing a lot more in terms of flood mitigation and prevention than what taking the dam out would do," said Brummel, 66, who is seeking his third term as mayor.
Hoffmann refuses to accept that conclusion because Warrenville did a study that strictly looked at scenarios where the dam's gates are open or closed.
If elected mayor, Hoffmann said he would push for a study of what would happen to flood elevations in Warrenville if the dam were removed.
"The city has dropped the ball by not getting the county to release more information," he said.
DuPage officials reacted to Hoffmann's remarks by insisting Fawell Dam doesn't cause the flooding in Warrenville. They also pointed to various projects already in the works to resolve the flooding problem, including proposed berms along the river.
"Even if you want to believe Mr. Hoffmann's view of it, the most cost effective way to resolve the problem is the list of projects that we're doing," said Anthony Charlton, DuPage's director of stormwater management.
"So from our standpoint," Charlton said, "it's unimportant to debate the dam versus no dam alternative anymore because the solution is the same."
The solution includes rebuilding bridges at Williams, Warrenville and Butterfield roads so they don't impede the flow of river water.
The bridge along Butterfield Road is being rebuilt as part of the state's widening of the roadway. Warrenville is planning to have the Williams Road bridge replaced by summer 2014.
When it comes to the Warrenville Road bridge, city officials are hoping the county will rebuild the structure by the end of 2015. Funding is being sought for the project.
"We have addressed the flooding problem," Brummel said. "And we continue to work on implementing what was determined to be the best way to move forward."