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updated: 7/2/2013 1:06 PM

DuPage River projects aim to ease flooding

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  • Work is expected to begin later this month on a multiyear project to add more than 95 acres of wetlands to the West Branch Forest Preserve near Bartlett.

    Work is expected to begin later this month on a multiyear project to add more than 95 acres of wetlands to the West Branch Forest Preserve near Bartlett.
    Daily Herald file photo


Two large, multimillion-dollar projects that will provide additional flood protection along the West Branch of the DuPage River are on pace to begin soon.

The DuPage County Board's stormwater committee on Tuesday is expected to recommend approval of two separate contracts with Earthwerks Land Improvement and Development Corp. and V3 Construction Group, Ltd.

If both contracts are approved next week by the full board, Earthwerks will be paid nearly $3.7 million to construct a flood protection berm and do river restoration in Warrenville. The work is scheduled to start later this month, officials said.

V3 Construction also could begin work later this month on a roughly $8.1 million wetlands project at the West Branch Forest Preserve near Bartlett.

"They (the projects) will help considerably with the flooding along the West Branch (of the DuPage River) through those parts of the county," said Jim Zay, chairman of the county board's stormwater committee.

The Warrenville project calls for a berm -- with a multiuse path on top of it -- to be built along the east side of River Road.

"I am delighted that a good deal of this work is going to have a positive impact on Warrenville," Mayor David Brummel said Monday.

The berm project is one of several in the works to provide flood protection to parts of Warrenville and Naperville.

Brummel said the state has rebuilt a bridge spanning the river at Butterfield Road as part of its widening of the road. That, along with the planned rebuilding of bridges at Williams and Warrenville roads, will improve the flow of river water.

Warrenville is hoping to replace the Williams Road bridge next year. The county is seeking funding to rebuild the Warrenville Road bridge.

"When you put them (the projects) all together, they are going to make a huge difference in terms of flood mitigation in Warrenville," Brummel said.

Meanwhile, county officials say the work at West Branch Forest Preserve is more of an environmental restoration project with most of the cost being paid with money from the city of Chicago. The city is obligated to create wetlands as a result of the expansion at O'Hare International Airport, and the West Branch was chosen as a site for the work.

Still, county officials say the project, which will take a few years to finish, will have ancillary flood-control benefits.

"There is some element of flood control," said Anthony Charlton, DuPage's director of stormwater management. "Wetlands have more flood storage capacity than dry ground does."

As part of the work, 95.5 acres of wetlands will be created at the preserve and 13 acres of existing wetlands will be enhanced. In addition, a stretch of the West Branch that runs through the forest preserve will be restored with the goal of reconnecting it with the floodplain and improving the health of the river system, officials said.

John "Ole" Oldenburg, director of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District's office of natural resources, said the project will achieve multiple goals.

In addition to creating new wetlands, the project will improve the habitat of the river and cause the river to flood more frequently on land within the preserve, Oldenburg said. It also will increase the amount of water the preserve can hold during flood events.

"We can retain that water and have reduced impacts downstream with respect to peak discharge," Oldenburg said.

Roughly $5 million of the project's total cost is coming from money paid by Chicago. The forest district is contributing about $2.3 million. Nearly $800,000 in grant money is coming from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

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