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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

HARWOOD HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) -- With more rain expected Friday night, one Chicago agency is looking for ways to keep it out of homes.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago is now on the hunt for places to install projects that could help with flooding. As CBS 2's Marybel González reported, one effort is already working in northwest suburban Harwood Heights.

Ayub Patel has lived in his Harwood Heights home for more than 15 years and has seen his share of flooding.

"Before, it was water was coming with one or two inches' rain," Patel said.

But the last two years, everything has been different for Patel.

"After this, no problem," he said.

That is because Patel's house sits right next to an alley that is known by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District as a Green Alley.

"They actually have stone and aggregate underneath the driving surface that allows water to sit and absorb, and re-enter the earth, instead of going our sewer systems," said Holly Sauter, principal civil engineer for the MWRD.

The MWRD told us the paving helps absorb 130,000 gallons of water per storm. Residents say it in more than one way.

"Now no more puddles - especially in the snow, too," Patel said. "When it's melted, it's going."

This was the second project the district has worked on in Harwood Heights. But now, they are looking to partner with other public departments in Chicago and Cook County on projects like green alleys and rain gardens – or lot transformations like the Space to Grow green schoolyard partnership at Wadsworth STEM Elementary in Woodlawn – to help with future flooding.

"Perhaps you have an old parking lot that needs some renovation, so we can really go in and take those hardscapes - which Chicago has a lot of - and turn those into permeable surfaces," said Sauter.

Right now, the MWRD is accepting applications for flooding prevention projects through the end of the month. To date, their program has captured more than 18 million gallons of stormwater through these projects alone.

They are hoping simple changes can make a big difference.

"It can't solve everything, but it's definitely a piece of stormwater management that allows us to keep that water out of pipes and other areas - and put it back into the earth that really needs it," Sauter said.

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Established in 1889, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.


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