February 2019: Even though it is still winter, we are seeing weather conditions that can lead to flooding. No longer just a problem in spring, the Chicago Department of Water Management encourages residents to assist in reducing water from reaching the sewer system. Community-wide efforts can greatly decrease the impact of neighborhood flooding and the extent of basement backups by taking the following steps:

  • Do not dump fats/oils/greases in private drains or public catch basins.
  • Avoid running a dishwasher or washing machine during storms.
  • Disconnect downspout connections from the sewer system. Make sure to direct flow to areas with permeable surfaces that can properly absorb the stormwater or use rain barrels to collect the rain directly from the downspouts. Click for more details.
  • Install rain gardens, green landscaping, or stormwater trees in your yard to help retain rainwater.
  • Resurface driveways, parking pads, or patios with permeable pavement.

Additional information can be found here.

 Rain Ready Program
(Center for Neighborhood Technology webpage on Rain Ready)

City of Chicago Flood Preparedness Brochure

Friends of the Chicago River Overflow Action Days

City of Chicago Stormwater Ordinance Manual

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning/CMAP

CMAP has been studying Stormwater management particularly dealing with urban flooding and recently released a Guide to Flood Susceptibility and Stormwater Planning. This GIS-based, planning-level approach is meant to help planners identify areas with potential flooding and corresponding land use based solutions for communities in the Chicago region. The approach uses CMAP’s Regional Flood Susceptibility Index, which helps prioritize areas susceptible to flooding for planning and mitigation investments.

From What Our Water’s Worth newsletter 10-10-12

Five Different Approaches: Case Studies (8-22-13)

How you can help keep catch basins clean

Given the City’s limited budget and staff and the size of the infrastructure, the city relies heavily on citizen involvement to help keep streets safe and catch basins clean and to notify the City if a higher level of maintenance is needed at a particular location.

To lessen street flooding, the City asks residents and property managers to help clean the inlets and catch basins (grated storm drains) in front of your properties and at the end of your block. Use a rake or pitch fork to clear leaves, limbs, and debris from the storm drain/catch basin. Do not put your feet and hands into the storm drain because all kinds of debris collect there that could be dangerous. Do not try to remove the grate, only the debris on top of the grate.

The best time to inspect the catch basin in front of your house or business is prior to a rain event and right after a rain, snow, or ice storm. If you cannot clear a clogged catch basin yourself, notify the City that help is needed. Call 773-868-4747 or 311 to report the particular location.

Please do not rake or blow the leaves from your yard into the street. Bag them and place them next to your garbage cart. If you employ a landscaper, please tell them to do the same and not to blow leaves into the street. This is illegal.

For leaves that have fallen into the street, please keep them out of the channel right along the curb, where they will block the path of rainwater. Rake them up and remove them. If you have a neighbor who is elderly or living with a disability, please rake their gutter for them. Our older neighbors have been cleaning the gutters for many years, please give them a hand.

How to prevent neighborhood drainage problems

Check your home’s drainage system. Maintaining the drainage system on private property is the owner’s responsibility. Make sure your drainage system directs water away from your foundation and not on to your neighbor’s property.

Clean your gutters and downspouts. Check your gutters monthly during fall and winter. Just one wind or rainstorm can clog a well-flowing drainage system.

In general, trees and plants with strong root structures help prevent soil erosion. Native plants require less water, fertilizer and help direct rainwater into the soil. When planted in conjunction with a disconnected downspout down spout, native plants are especially effective for managing storm water. Install a Rain Barrel.

Never block any part of the city’s drainage system. Do not put leaves, dirt, grass clippings, or any materials in the gutter. Doing so can cause flooding. It is against the law to dump any material into the drainage system. To report illegal dumping, call 773-868-4747


48th Ward Stormwater BMP Guides, “Blue Town”