Excess rainwater is cause of sewage backups in Mundelein, consultant says

  • Jorge Morales and his 10-year-old son, Ariel, try to clear storm drains in Mundelein after heavy rains that flooded their neighborhood in July 2017.

    Jorge Morales and his 10-year-old son, Ariel, try to clear storm drains in Mundelein after heavy rains that flooded their neighborhood in July 2017. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/9/2018 6:49 AM

An independent study confirmed excess rainwater gets into some sanitary sewers throughout Mundelein, resulting in the type of sewage backups many people experienced during July's disastrous flood.

The water likely is getting into the sanitary sewers through defects in the pipes such as cracks or holes, as well as improper customer hookups to the sanitary system, consultant Zach Matyja told the village board Monday night.

 

The sanitary sewers with the worst rainwater infiltration are in the center and north part of town, said Matyja, a client manager with the RJN Group, the Wheaton consultant hired to examine the problem.

Among the homes and businesses those pipes serve are the ones near Route 45 and Division Street, the area that experienced some of the most severe flooding during last year's storm.

Matyja presented the preliminary results from his firm's study during a committee-of-the-whole meeting that focused on potential stormwater improvements in town.

Fixing the sanitary-sewer problem could require pipe repairs, the installation of larger pipes and the elimination of illicit sewer connections, Matyja said.

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And all of that would be on top of proposed improvements to the village's stormwater sewer system that a different consultant has said are necessary.

"We need to address both sides of this," said Adam Boeche, the village's public works and engineering director.

Village officials also debated -- but didn't vote on -- establishing higher sewer and water rates for property owners as a way to fund sewer improvements.

An additional gasoline tax also was mentioned as a way to finance sewer improvements without putting all the burden on homeowners.

Trustee Scott Black favored that concept.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I'm trying to minimize the burden on Mundelein residents," Black said. "This is an opportunity to do that."

But Trustee Kerston Russell said a fuel tax would hurt Mundelein business owners, like him, whose companies require vehicles.

He and Black verbally sparred on the issue before other board members shared their opinions.

Trustee Bill Rekus feared the higher prices resulting from a new tax would prompt drivers to buy gas in other towns.

"I just can't see that a gas tax is really going to help us," Rekus said.

The board likely won't make a decision on funding sewer repairs until late spring or early summer, Village Administrator John Lobaito said after the meeting.

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