The expanded Melvina Ditch Reservoir will alleviate flooding concerns for Burbank and Oak Lawn residents longing for solutions to decades of unwanted stormwater runoff. The reservoir expansion project will more than double the reservoir’s holding capacity to 117.3 million gallons and reduce the risk of flooding for 430 residential properties.
The Melvina Ditch Reservoir, at 6500 W. 87th St., Burbank, has exceeded its capacity in recent storm events, resulting in flooding in nearby neighborhoods. Through public meetings, consensus was met to expand the reservoir within the existing reservoir footprint on MWRD property and by acquiring 15 nearby properties around the perimeter of the reservoir. The expanded reservoir will increase its holding capacity by nearly 64 million gallons. To construct this, the MWRD is removing more than 80,000 tons of dirt.
The project modifies the pumping station to accommodate the expansion. A new emergency overflow weir is being installed to prevent the reservoir from overtopping. Additional work on the reservoir will include the installation of a stormwater chamber and culverts at the outlet of the pumping station. Construction will extend to 87th Street to install the culverts and replace any disturbed utilities. Storm pumps will also be removed and serviced and impellers will be lengthened.
The water from the reservoir is conveyed to an underground culvert that stretches from 87th Street to 95th street where it empties into the Melvina Ditch. The $20-million project, funded primarily by the MWRD, also received a grant from the state of Illinois through its Build Illinois Bond Fund. Work hours are expected around the clock and weekends, if necessary. Motorists are urged to be cautious of work zone speed limits and changing traffic patterns, especially when workers are present.
The reservoir expansion represents the culmination of an engaging public process that relied on the input of Burbank and Oak Lawn residents to work toward a solution to severe flooding in their communities. The MWRD also worked with the Southwest Mayors Conference and Stickney Township to ensure multiple partners’ flooding concerns were addressed. Combining that community outreach with highly skilled engineering work and funding assistance from partners in Springfield, the project is moving forward to make a critical difference in the quality of life for local residents who have in years past dealt with flooded basements and streets. Downstream communities, such as Bridgeview, Chicago Ridge, Worth and Stickney Township, will also benefit indirectly from the reservoir. The expanded reservoir makes a positive regional impact and addresses local and regional government initiatives to mitigate flooding in these communities. As a result, approximately 430 residential properties will have a reduced risk of flooding during storms.
MWRD commissioners, Burbank, Oak Lawn and Stickney Township officials and contractors with F.H. Paschen formally broke ground on the expansion in April 2018. The reservoir expansion, pump station structure modifications and land restoration were completed in 2021. Remaining work includes refurbishing and lengthening storm pumps to convey additional water. The project is expected to be complete by 2023.