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The City of Burbank posted the following statement on the homepage of their website last month:
The excavation of the Melvina Reservoir on 87th Street and Nashville Avenue is being dug to bring the water-holding capacity to 1966 initial design specifications.
The excavation work is the first step in a series of improvements meant to increase the reservoir’s stormwater storage capacity during heavy rains.
Critics have long blamed the Melvina Ditch Reservoir as the chief source of the city’s flooding problems during heavy rainstorms. Mayor Harry Klein has stated that buildup of sediment over the years has reduced the the reservoir’s capacity and its ability to retain stormwater.
The Burbank Beat recently contacted the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) with questions about the reservoir work and future improvements.
Below is a Q&A with MWRD spokeswoman Allison Fore regarding the Melvina Ditch Reservoir.
When is the work expected to be completed?
The current excavation and grading work being performed at the reservoir will be completed this week [Dec. 13]. Restoration work will be done in the spring.
Does the MWRD agree with Mayor Harry Klein’s assertion that silt buildup has reduced capacity of the reservoir over the years?
The MWRD performed a topographic survey of the Melvina Ditch Reservoir and compared the existing volume to the original design capacity. The survey data indicated that the existing volume was 3-acre feet less than the original design capacity of 165 acre-feet, less than a two percent loss in volume.
How much soil will be removed and where will that soil be deposited?
MWRD's current excavation work involves removal and disposal of over 5,000 cubic yards of material which is being hauled to a sanitary landfill based on environmental test results.
Will the reservoir be returned to its original (1966) capacity?
Over 3-acre feet of storage will be created through MWRD's current excavation and grading efforts, which will exceed the original design capacity of 165-acre feet.
What plans are in the works for expansion of the reservoir?
MWRD's Board of Commissioners has authorized preliminary engineering and final design for improvements to the Melvina Ditch Reservoir. Simultaneously, we will be performing a feasibility analysis of other stormwater improvements to address flooding throughout the Melvina Ditch watershed. Tasks involved in this work include:
1) Preliminary engineering to identify improvements to the Melvina Ditch Reservoir. Under this task, the feasibility of various expansion alternatives will be analyzed to determine the most cost effective approach.
2) Preparation of plans, specifications and contract documents for the selected alternative based on the results of the analysis performed.
3) A detailed analysis of system-wide alternatives within the Melvina Ditch watershed to mitigate flooding. An evaluation of the entire watershed will be performed, and preliminary engineering plans will be developed for use in defining a detailed scope of work for additional improvements within the Melvina Ditch watershed, should they prove feasible.
Have homeowners been contacted about selling their property for expansion of the reservoir?
Once the preliminary engineering work described above is completed, the MWRD will reach out to private property owners who may be affected by the expansion alternatives which are determined to provide the needed flood protection.
What are the long-term plans to reduce flooding in Burbank?
Various alternatives to address flooding in Burbank and throughout the Melvina Ditch watershed will be evaluated under the system-wide analysis described above. The MWRD will work closely with the local communities, public agencies, and other stakeholders to identify improvements to reduce flooding, and ensure that problems are not pushed downstream. Examples of the various improvements that may be recommended include additional localized detention, upsizing critical storm sewers/culverts, modifications to existing reservoir operations, and green infrastructure. In addition to this analysis and evaluation for future improvements, the MWRD's recently adopted Watershed Management Ordinance requires more stringent stormwater controls on development throughout Cook County to lessen its impact on flooding. ❒
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