Sewer Services / Flood Mitigation

Operation & Maintenance

The Public Works Department is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Village’s sewer and stormwater collection and conveyance systems, which include 72 miles of combined, storm, and sanitary sewers.

Flooding Information

Combined Sewer System

The Village of La Grange operates a combined sewer system (PDF) in which the sanitary and stormwater are combined into a single pipe. In heavy rain events, this system can be surcharged, resulting in flooding that can include combined sewer backups and standing water in depressional areas.

In response to flooding events, the Village has hosted several educational workshops on flooding. View the PowerPoint presentation and video provided at these workshops.

The Village routinely maintains the sewer system through televising, cleaning and sewer lining. Residents can assist in the effort of keeping catch basins clear by removing debris or contacting Public Works to do so. 

Village Flood Control Objectives

Over the last several years, the Village has experienced multiple high-intensity rain events that exceeded the limited capacity of the Village’s sewer system resulting in flooded basements, overland flooding in a number of depressional areas, and private property drainage issues. As a result, a tiered approach to the prioritization of flood control objectives was identified. Tier 1 implements solutions to address overland flooding and water pooling in depressional areas and Tier 2 reduces the frequency of combined sewer backups.  View a copy of the report.

To fund the first phase of initiatives, the Village Board enacted a voter authorized increase in the local retail sales tax and approved increases in the Municipal Utility Tax, Simplified Telecommunications tax, and sewer rate.

50th Street Storm Sewer Project

This project includes the construction of a new storm sewer along 50th Street from East Avenue to Waiola Avenue.  Funding for the 50th Street Storm Sewer was obtained through a 2015 voter-approved La Grange referendum.  

The 50th Street project consists of the construction of a new storm sewer along 50th Street from East Avenue to Spring Avenue.  The Village completed the engineering for the project in 2016 (LINK) and accepted bids for the construction of the project later that year. While the Village was moving forward with the project, the 50th Street project was stopped and has been delayed due to litigation filed by Lehigh Hanson Quarry in McCook.  The Village was surprised that Lehigh Hansen would file a lawsuit because the Village constructed a storm sewer from East Avenue to the McCook ditch approximately 100 years ago. In 1992, the Village learned that the Quarry, without the Village’s permission or knowledge, demolished a major portion of the sewer pipe so that it could excavate the area underneath the sewer.

In 2018, the Village and Lehigh Hanson reached a tentative settlement regarding the 50th Street project. However, the cost of construction contemplated by that settlement was unfeasible. The Village has expressed to Lehigh Hanson that it is amenable to constructive, fair negotiations. In addition, the Court recently ruled against Lehigh Hanson on its motion for summary judgement. Attached is a copy of the Court’s decision (PDF).

A technical memorandum was developed in September, 2020 at the request of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to provide preliminary analysis of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the 50th Street Project, to assess the potential benefits and effectiveness of each phase. The analysis provides an estimate of 643 structures that could potentially be impacted by flooding depending on certain rain events to determine preliminary and potential phased project benefits. Data available for use in the analysis was limited and therefore should not be relied upon for purposes other than what the report was intended to provide

The Village and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) worked diligently to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement so that the 50th Street and related reservoir projects could begin.  There are obstacles to finalizing the agreement, and to date the parties have been unable to enter into an intergovernmental agreement to further the project.  The settlement agreement with the Quarry expired at the end of 2020 and the settlement funds have been returned.

The Village has met with representatives of Hanson Quarry on several occasions to discuss the project and alternatives, including at the judicial level.  The Village has requested that the Quarry partner with and assist La Grange with solving this regional flooding problem.

The Village is also continuing to work with the MWRD and federal and state legislators on flood relief projects.  The Village is also working with regional transportation partners such as IDOT and Cook County to identify opportunities for storm water management.

The Village will continue to report on these efforts as more information becomes available.

For more information regarding the 50th Street Storm Sewer Project and flood mitigation efforts, including Frequently Asked Questions, please visit the Village website.

Relief Sewer Projects

There are also a number of other long-term initiatives the Village has identified to address flooding throughout the Village, which includes relief sewers.

Village Construction Standards

The Village as requirements for projects such as a new house, addition or planned development in terms of storm water management and grading. 

The Village requires that a grading and storm water management plan be submitted by a civil engineer for developments that exceed certain thresholds. These plans are required to address localized grading around the property and to reduce the impact of storm water from residential development on the limited capacity sewer system.  For a typical new home, storm water management includes the installation of below grade retention systems that are designed to store and infiltrate storm water that is generated on the site.  In major storm events, these storage systems are also overwhelmed resulting in water pooling in low lying areas. Additionally, the plan establishes grading elevations on the site for compliance with local codes and generally accepted engineering practices. The Village continues to assess development and existing codes for updates and implementation of best practices to reduce flooding. The Village’s stormwater management requirements are located on the Village’s website. Several recent large-scale planned developments included the installation of storm water management infrastructure to reduce the impact on the Village’s sewer system

Green Infrastructure Improvements

The Village applied for and received IEPA Green Infrastructure Program grants in 2013 to fund the construction of a permeable paver parking lot at Brainard and Burlington Avenues (Lot 13).

In 2019, the Village received IEPA Green Infrastructure Program grants to fund the construction of a permeable paver parking lot at Harris and Sixth Avenues (north end of the parking structure) and at Madison and Harris (Lot 8). 

Brick pavers allow water to infiltrate into the ground rather than discharge into the combined sewer system that can be overburdened by heavy rainstorms.  The design reduces storm water runoff rates, volumes and pollutant loads, and partially restores the natural hydrology at the project areas.

Additional green infrastructure projects will be considered in future budget years.

Deep Tunnel

View an informational brochure about combined sewers and the Deep Tunnel or TARP (Tunnel and Reservoir Plan) (PDF).

Flooding Report and Flood Management

To report a flooding event, we request that you fill out the attached form.

More information regarding proper cleaning of a flooded home is available through the Illinois Department of Public Health (PDF).

For more information regarding steps you should take (PDF) after a flood, please visit (LINK)

Preventing Sewer Backups

  • Have a qualified, experienced plumber who guarantees their work inspect your basement. To protect your home from sewer backups, have a check valve or overhead sewer installed. A licensed contractor and permits are required for this work. These home improvements will prevent sewer backups if properly installed.
  • Disconnect your home’s downspouts so they drain onto pervious (absorbent) surfaces instead of into the sewer system. It is important to make sure the disconnected downspout does not direct water toward your foundation or a neighbor’s foundation. Consider directing flow to a rain barrel or rain garden area.
  • You can connect downspouts to rain barrels (available from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) and other suppliers) to save the rainwater for reuse.
  • Consider replacing your driveway and other paved areas on your property with previous surfaces that can absorb stormwater. If permeable pavers are used for a driveway, walkway, patio, etc. then they do not count towards lot coverage. The installation of the pavers must also include proper drainage approved by the Village.
  • Has your lateral connection been inspected for blockages or damage that could cause basement backups?

Flood Mitigation and Protecting Your Property

View Stormwater Management Frequently Asked Questions related to the recent rain event.

For more information regarding flood control measures, please consult the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management Guide to Flood Protection in Northeastern Illinois (PDF) and Repairing Your Flooded Home (PDF) from FEMA.

For more information regarding flood mitigation and basement flooding, please consult the Mitigation and Basement Flooding Presentation(PDF) from FEMA.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District has developed a Green Neighbor Guide focusing on stormwater management projects you can build or install on your property. 

The Community Development Department provides technical assistance to residents in the form of consultations with the Village Engineer and Village Staff in order to encourage consideration of permeable pavers, dry wells, overhead sewers, rain gardens, and bioswales. Please contact the Community Development Department at (708) 579-2320 for more information.

Sewer Backup Prevention Program

As part of the Village's ongoing evaluation of stormwater management projects and programs, the Village Board approved a residential flood rebate / cost share program on April 25, 2022.  The program goes into effect on May 1, 2022.  The details of the program, including program eligibility, funding levels, and application procedures are provided through the attached policy document, which can be amended from time to time.  The program provides 50% reimbursement of eligible expenses, subject to a maximum reimbursement of $3,000 for a backflow check valve and a maximum of $5,000 for the installation of an overhead sewer.  Each property is eligible for a one-time grant capped at $5,000.  The program will operate on a first come, first served basis based on a complete application.

For more information, please see the program details on the Sewer Backup Prevention Grant (LINK) page.