DuPage to host tours of Elmhurst Quarry

DuPage's largest flood control facility will be on display later this month when the county opens the Elmhurst Quarry for a day of tours.

The massive reservoir in Elmhurst serves as DuPage's first line of defense against major flooding when too much rain falls on the region. It's capable of capable of holding up to 2.7 billion gallons of water.

The tours scheduled for Sept. 30 will give up to 530 people the rare opportunity to learn the history of the facility and how it's now used to manage stormwater.

"A lot of people see the quarry, but they don't know how it protects the area," said Jim Zay, chairman of the county's stormwater management committee. "To have people come out and see how it's used and how it functions is a great thing for them and for us."

The last tour, held in 2015, sold out. Tickets for this month's tour are expected to disappear quickly when the Elmhurst History Museum starts selling them on Wednesday.

"It's a well-attended event," Zay said. "Anybody who wants to tour the quarry can come."

The county bought the site - located between Route 83 and Highland Avenue - in 1992 from Elmhurst-Chicago Stone Co. for $36 million as part of a larger effort to alleviate flood concerns along Salt Creek.

Another $28 million was spent constructing the facility, which was used for the first time in 1996.

The reservoir has two lobes separated by a high rock wall that supports West Avenue. When the facility is being used during heavy rains, water can be diverted into it to keep Salt Creek inside its banks. The reservoir holds floodwater until water elevations recede enough to pump the water back into the creek.

"When the county first got it, a lot of people thought it was a waste," Zay said.

Officials say there have been five instances since 1998 when at least 75 percent of the reservoir's 2.7 billion gallon capacity was used. One of those times - in 2008 - the facility was filled.

"Now that we've had some major rain events, I think people realize that it's a benefit for not only Elmhurst, but for surrounding communities," Zay said.

On Sept. 30, tours will depart from the Elmhurst History Museum at 120 E. Park Ave. via bus every 30 minutes from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Each tour will last about two hours.

Tickets cost $10, payable to the Elmhurst History Museum.

Tickets will be available starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday at in the "special events" section.

Children 10 and older are allowed, but must be accompanied by an adult.

In addition to the tours, there's a new observation deck at the northwest corner of Highland and First Street that provides a view of the east lobe.

The last time DuPage County hosted tours of its Elmhurst Quarry Flood Control Facility in 2015, the event sold out quickly. Tickets for the Sept. 30 tours will go on sale Wednesday. Daily Herald file photo
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