McCook Reservoir opens, seeks to alleviate flooding

Monday, December 4, 2017
McCook Reservoir opens, seeks to alleviate flooding
The McCook Reservoir opened Monday and seeks to alleviate flooding in Chicago and other suburbs.

MCCOOK, Ill. (WLS) -- Basement and street flooding from heavy rain in Chicago and 36 suburbs could be reduced thanks to the McCook Reservoir, which dignitaries dedicated on Monday.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the big hole, which could provide relief from Bedford Park to Wilmette.

The 285-feet deep McCook Quarry now will become a reservoir for floodwater and is the latest addition to the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP). The massive flood and pollution relief effort was started over four decades ago by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD).

"It doesn't solve all the problems but it alleviates some, takes some of the burden off," said Congressman Mike Quigley, D-Chicago.

The giant relief bathtub is connected to the deep tunnel system and will handle up to 3.5 billion gallons of water - much of it from combined storm and sanitary sewers, which is the foul-smelling stuff that quite often navigates an unwelcome path into basements.

"This definitely helps. That's a lot of water that we're moving from and around homes in this district into this pit," said McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski.

Two years ago, the Thornton Reservoir began taking south suburban floodwater. McCook is meant to lessen those heavy rain floods, but it won't eliminate flooding.

"This will provide the most benefit for those long duration storms when it rains three days straight. That's the kind of storm this is perfect for," Carmen Scalise, of MWRD McCook project manager.

This is Phase 1 of the project. In 12 years, the plan is to add an adjacent quarry to increase capacity. The second quarry still being limestone mined. If it wins funding, there, the 3.5 billion gallon bathtub will nearly triple in size.