The Path Forward
A RainReady future for the Calumet Corridor is within reach.
RainReady solutions are designed to address more than just flooding. For example, streets can be resurfaced in a way that not only reduces the wear-and-tear on cars and provides multiple transportation options (e.g., driving, walking, biking, transit), but also reduces street flooding and the stress on local sewer systems. Yards can be landscaped in a way that not only beautifies the neighborhood and improves property values, but also reduces the risk of basement backups. Commercial corridors can retrofitted to be more inviting for shoppers (and increase tax revenue), and also reduce stress on local sewers. Industrial centers can be redeveloped in a way that not only creates new jobs, but also reduces flooding in the surrounding neighborhoods. The list goes on.
Together, these strategies lay the foundation for a resilient future.
Put communities on a resilient path by reorienting "day-to-day" operations and long term planning. These strategies improve local decision-making, ensure collaborative planning, promote equitable and resilient development, and prepare communities for future storms.
Improve Local Decision-Making
Employ appropriate decision-making tools, engage a wide variety of community members, and adapt the approach, as needed.
- Build trust through transparent communication
- Monitor and evaluate the performance of projects and programs
- Practice continuous learning
Practice transparent and inclusive local planning. These strategies empower residents, business owners, municipal staff, and elected representatives to provide input, constructive criticism, and guidance to local decision-makers.
- Engage a diversity of stakeholders early and often
- Build trust
- Accomplish small victories
- Recruit neighbors
Equitable and Resilient Development
Promote equitable and resilient development at all levels—from the home to community. Local governments have many potential strategies to reduce urban flood risk through improvements to local ordinances and codes, incentive or enforcement programs, and changes to zoning and land use practices.
- Local ordinance audit
- Building code upgrades
- Set stormwater management requirements for new development
- Training for public employees
- Incentive programs for green infrastructure
- Preserving open space
Prepare for Floods
Equip communities with the knowledge and resources they need to prepare for, respond to, and recover (stronger) from future storms—both large and small.
This plan includes hundreds of strategies to reduce flood risk; however, no set of measures can completely eliminate that risk. Communities should take steps to prepare so that in the event of a big storm, they are well-equipped to respond and recover.
- Prepare for a flood: get insurance; elevate appliances; secure valuables. Learn more
- Join a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- Establish an emergency response plan
Establish modern infrastructure systems that allow communities to flourish while creating new jobs. As sewer systems age, cracked, blocked, and collapsed pipes can contribute to community flooding. To bring infrastructure into a state of good repair, steps will be taken to document, inspect, maintain, and rehabilitate the system.
Document and Inspect Your Municipal Sewer System
Gather information about the location, age, and extent of community infrastructure assets. Develop a system to record information about the system and observations made during routine inspection.
- Sewer inspection
- Manhole and catch basin inspection
Maintain Your Municipal Sewer System
Regularly clean and maintain your sewer system to keep small problems from turning into big ones. Individual municipalities are responsible for maintaining local drainage and sewer systems. A well-maintained sewer needs a cleaning schedule and a plan to address problems identified during routine inspection.
- Sewer and manhole cleaning
- Street cleaning
- Maintenance prevention activities
Repair Your Municipal Sewer System
Over time, sewer repair is required in order to maintain the function of the system. Repair is needed to ensure structural stability and to prevent excessive leaks into the system, which reduce overall capacity. Sewers occasionally must be replaced to increase capacity for sewage and stormwater management.
- Sewer line repair
- Manhole or catch basin rehabilitation
- Record keeping
Create beautiful RainReady communities by converting impervious surfaces into natural landscapes and installing new green and gray infrastructure.
Green infrastructure uses plants and trees to capture rainwater where it lands, reducing flow into the sewer and decreasing flood risk. These solutions are often more cost-effective than sewer replacement, and have the added benefits of beautifying neighborhoods, cooling and cleansing the air, lowering energy costs from heating and cooling, boosting economies, and creating new green jobs.
Rainwater is caught in the leafy canopies of trees, where it evaporates back into the atmosphere without ever reaching the sewer. The soil at the base of the tree can also alleviate flooding, since tree roots keep the soil loose and support infiltration of water underground.
Rain gardens are bowl-shaped gardens filled with native plants. In some cases, the earth under the rain garden is filled with layers of rocks, gravel, and sand to make it easier for the water to seep underground. They are shaped like a bowl so that all of the water that falls on them, as well as any water that is directed into them from nearby roofs, makes its way into the earth with the help of deep-rooted native plants.
Bioswales are rows of native plants that can be placed alongside roads and parking lots to filter and direct stormwater, slow it down, and send it underground or into a rain garden.
Permeable pavement is not made from plants, but it is generally considered a green infrastructure solution, since it mimics natural processes. It looks just like regular pavement, but allows stormwater to infiltrate into the earth via tiny holes in the material (imagine a pumice stone). Permeable pavers function like tiles, with stormwater seeping underground via the joints between the tiles.
Rain Barrels and Cisterns
Rain barrels and cisterns are containers that store stormwater runoff from a roof. This water can be reused to water the garden, or it can be released into the sewer system after the sewer system has had a chance to clear out.
Naturalized Detention Ponds
Naturalized detention ponds filter and store stormwater. They can also create habitat and beautiful places to picnic, walk, and birdwatch.
Community gardens and urban farms soak up stormwater while producing healthy food.
Plans, Policies, and Key Agencies
The political system of the Calumet Corridor is as rich as the habitat it governs. Dozens of local, regional, state, and federal organizations, agencies, and firms—each of which have their own jurisdiction and geographies—are actively engaged in shaping the region. To prepare the RainReady: Calumet Corridor Plan, the project team met with more than 2,100 stakeholders and reviewed over 100 plans, policies, and studies.
The team aimed to build on and support the following planning and coordination efforts:
- The Calumet Stormwater Collaborative
- The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s GO TO 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan
- Cook County Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Cook County’s Application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition
- The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s Phase II Master Plan.
- Millennium Reserve Green Infrastructure Project