Monday, July 10, 2017

You can look here soon for the water that used to be in your basement








     When I visited the new McCook Reservoir, I wasn’t exactly happy to be welcomed by rain pelting down in big summertime drops. I had brought my steel-toed boots but no jacket and no umbrella.
     But the rain was appropriate, considering that rain is what this is all about: the 109 miles of deep tunnel, the 10-billion-gallon reservoir this hole in the rock will someday become part of; all so the water that falls from the sky can find its way into a treatment plant without first detouring through your basement, a task that is getting harder for two reasons: the soot we put into the sky and the pavement we slap over the ground.
     “Forty percent of Cook County is nonpermeable surface, which means water can’t absorb where it falls,” said Mariyana T. Spyropoulos, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, who accompanied me on a tour of the site tucked between the Stevenson Expressway and the Sanitary and Ship Canal in Bedford Park.
     Here I interrupted her, incredulous. I’ve heard a lot of stark statistics about Cook County. But 40 percent? How can that be?
     “We have concrete,” she said. “We have asphalt. Rainwater cannot absorb into it. Yes, 40 percent. Combine that with the fact that we have climate change, we have more intense rainstorms. In the last 10 years we’ve had three hundred-year rainstorms.


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4 comments:

  1. Impressive. And great timing, what with the long-awaited rain today.

    john

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  2. It's almost as if these people were never in Chicago. Before the EPA was created we had steel mills, foundries, brick works, coal fired power plants, and other soot generating factories scattered throughout the city and beyond. There was more soot then you could shake a stick at. And climate change flooding used to be so bad they actually had to raise the streets so people could get around without being stuck in the mud. That's why you have to go down steps to get to the first floor of buildings in older sections of Chicago. But I can't complain, before the Deep Tunnel Project our basement used to flood every other year. For the last 40 years it only flooded once, July 2010, and it was only a few inches deep near the drain.

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    Replies
    1. I can attest to the soot. We lived at 78th & Coles (a block west of South Shore Drive) and my mother never hung the clothes outside to dry -- the big black clouds billowing from the steel mills a mile or so South of us was a big deterrent.

      john

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