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.
McCook Reservoir Stage I will take on 3.5 billion gallons (BG) of water that would otherwise pollute our waterways and flood our basements and streets. TARP now has more than 14 BG of storage capacity to protect our water environment. #cleanwater pic.twitter.com/WSPtgumcaY— MWRD (@MWRDGC) December 4, 2017
"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.