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Regional Flood Mitigation Meeting Recap

Regional Flood Mitigation Meeting Recap
April 15, 2020

The Regional Flood Mitigation Meeting took place on April 15, 2020 at 7 PM.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held virtually, and audio of the meeting is available for download. At this meeting the City and other agencies provided updates and other information on their efforts and projects to mitigate ongoing flooding concerns in Lake County and specifically the City of Highland Park. We all acknowledge that the City needs to continue coordinating efforts to address this regional threat to health, safety and welfare caused by flooding. The issue and the detrimental costs to the affected communities will persist and likely grow given the weather trends. The first Regional Flood Meeting was held in October of 2019.  The next meeting will be held in October, 2020.  The date and time of the meeting will be communicated to interested residents and communicated by the City through its enews, social media and other communication.  Individuals interested in updates should sign up for City newsletters at under Stay Connected. For inquiries on flood specific concerns, please email

The April 15, 2020 meeting had 65 attendees. Panel members included:

1.  Nancy R. Rotering, Mayor
2.  Ghida S. Neukirch, City Manager, City of Highland Park
3.  Ramesh Kanapareddy, P.E, CFM, Director of Public Works
4.  Julie Morrison, State Senator
5.  Bob Morgan, State Representative
6.  Paul Frank, Lake County Board Commissioner
7.  Todd Needlman, Commissioner, East Skokie Drainage District (ESDD) Chairman
8.  Greg Claus, US Representative Schneider’s office
9.  Imad Samara, US Army Corps of Engineers
10. Steve Fischer, US Army Corps of Engineers
11. Paul Mazzeno, Lake County Emergency Management
12. Mike Warner, P.E, CFM Lake County Stormwater Management Commission
13. Kurt Woolford, P.E, CFM Lake County Stormwater Management Commission
14. Sharon Osterby, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission
15. Ashley Strelcheck, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission

Mayor Nancy Rotering opened the meeting by announcing some attendees.  These included Alyssa Knobel, Highland Park City Council Member, Ghida Neukirch, City Manager Highland Park, Ramesh Kanapareddy, Director of Public Works Highland Park, Manny Gomez, City Engineer Highland Park, members of the Army Corps of Engineering, East Skokie Drainage District, Lake County SMC, Park District of Highland Park, Village of Deerfield, City of Lake Forest, Lake County EMA, City of Lake Bluff, Lake County Emergency Management, Greg Taylor – Lake County Board District 19 & Chair of Stormwater Management Commission.

Mayor Rotering mentioned the ongoing discussions with our state and federal on the need for funding for the flood mitigation for our area.

Several agencies provided with their project updates.  These include:

  • US Army Corps of Engineers:  New study to address localized flooding and is focused on specific areas.  Will be working with Highland Park, Lake County, Lake Forest, East Skokie Drainage District, and other areas as needed.  The study will focus on solutions for each location to reduce and mitigate flooding.
  • East Skokie Drainage District:  District is in final stages of stream embankment project in Lake Forest.  The District is a few weeks away from receiving proposals from contractors to start construction.
  • Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC):  Lake County presented several projects.  A summary of each project is noted here:
    • Flood alert/flood response project.  The alerts may use smart phone apps to alert the public flooding.
    • The Skokie River Watershed study confirmed that construction of one large detention basin will solve regional flooding and multiple detention locations are needed. With this noted four separate projects were presented.
      • The first is located at IL 120 and Washington Street.  This involves creating stormwater detention at this location.
      • The second project is located further south at Pulaski Drive. This project involves removal of an old clay pipe that is used for river conveyance and re-establishing a river channel for conveyance.  The new channel provides additional storage and also provides water quality features as it is better at “cleaning” water as the water flows in it.
      • The third project is located at Martin Luther King Drive.  The scope of work is similar to that at Pulaski Drive (remove clay pipe and establish river channel).
      • The fourth project is located at US 41 and IL 137.  This project addresses flooding at the Strawberry condos.  54 1st floor units suffered flood damage.  The project will provide flood relief.
    • Flood Buy Out Program.  SMC has been awarded $7.3 million in federal and state funds to buy eligible flood properties.  Of the $7.3 million, 44% or $3.2 million has been applied toward the acquisition of 8 properties in Highland Park.  Of the 8 properties 4 have been acquired to date.
  • City of Highland Park:  The City is using the newly published rainfall data for design of new sewers.  Since the intensity increased by about 30%, the design size of new pipes are larger.  The City has budgeted $18 million in storm improvement projects over the next 10-year period.  The City is installing a few backflow preventers, on select projects, as part of new storm sewer upgrade projects that are adjacent to the river/ in the vicinity of the river.  Backflow preventers keep water from surcharging out of drainage structures onto pavements during low intensity rain events. It was emphasized that the backflow preventers will not prevent river from overtopping as flood plain areas remain under water during moderate to heavy rains or intense rains during short intervals. City also has a voluntary sewer lateral cost share program. This program provides residents up to $1,260 to make improvements to prevent basement flooding or sewer surcharges. Residents are encouraged to call Public Works at 847.432.0807 or or visit website for further information.

After project updates, a discussion concerning US Army Corps of Engineering Section 219 federal funding took place.  Section 219 funding may provide federal funding tor flood mitigation projects.

A discussion of how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect funding took place.  There will be economic impacts due to COVID-19.  So, efforts to continue to emphasize the importance to maintain funding to address flooding in Lake County are important and will continue.

Mayor Rotering thanked all government partners and residents for attending the virtual meeting.