Report highlights urban flooding costs

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Urban flooding, like that caused by heavy rains this week, causes extensive and expensive damage, according to a report released in June by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

That report, which was prompted by the Urban Flooding Awareness Act, found that between 2007 and 2014, flooding in urban areas of Illinois caused $2.319 billion of documented damages, including $1.249 billion of private claims like basement flooding and sewer backup.

The report noted, among other observations, that average annual rainfall in the state has risen by 10 percent over the past century, a change that, coupled with more runoff from new paved surfaces, means a greater volume of water moving through storm sewers.

To improve future storm sewer projects, the report called for more measurement of rainfall and water levels.

“The more rain gauge data and the more monitoring you do of streams and rainfall totals, then you’re able to create better products when you do studies and when you’re operating a reservoir,” said Brad Winters of the DNR. “You’re able to make better decisions if you have more information about what the rivers are doing and what rainfall is occurring.”

The report also recommended allowing all counties to develop their own storm water authorities, to ensure that new developments built outside of city limits still meet necessary standards for managing storm water.

To view the full report, click here.

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