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The subject of a major flood relief project that will affect portions of unincorporated Maine Township, Des Plaines, Park Ridge and Niles starting as early as 2022 brought the township board’s five voting members together at their Aug. 25 meeting.

With the willingness of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to include Prairie Creek in the project with Farmer’s Creek, and to pay for all construction and land acquisition  costs, township trustees voted 5 to 0 to commit to negotiate with the MWRD an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) by the end of the year to get the project moving forward.

Township Supervisor Laura Morask called the plan “great news” with Trustee Kim Jones saying the news is “fantastic.”

The project calls for a series of engineering improvements along both creeks that will better control the flow of water to the east and eventually into the Des Plaines River near Busse Highway. Prior to last week’s meeting, proposed improvements along Farmer’s Creek, which includes the area around Lake Maryanne on the north side of Golf Road east of the Tri-State Tollways’ northbound on ramp, were generally agreed to. Adding Prairie Creek, which flows in an east-west direction from Greenwood Avenue into the river adds significant protection.

Over the years during periods of heavy rainfall, both tributaries would frequently overspill their banks eventually finding their way into as many as 143 homes and other structures causing significant damage. One of the hardest hit areas over the years has been the Robin Drive neighborhood west of two ponds on Lutheran General Hospital property south of Ballard Road and east of Potter Road. St. John Greek Orthodox Church at the Tri-State and Dempster Street has also flooded on many occasions. Directly in front of the church is the spot where Prairie and Farmer’s creeks converge and flow about half a mile east into the river.

Morask explained that a result of the work will be the lowering of the level of the Des Plaines River at that point where the creeks spill in because of a slowing of water flowing into the waterway during heavy rains. For example, the two ponds at Lutheran General will be altered to accept and hold water for longer periods of time.

Other improvements include installation of new water inlet and outlet structures at Lake Maryanne, installing larger diameter pipes, replacement of some culverts, acquiring needed easements  and construction of a new retaining wall and vegetation.

In order for this to occur, the township and Park Ridge must come to separate agreements with the MWRD. The township’s responsibility would be to provide regular maintenance to the improved areas which is estimated to cost around $14,000 annually.

If the intergovernmental agreements are approved by the end of the year, design work for the project would be completed in 2021 with construction kicking-off in 2022. The work will take about two years to complete. To date, the MWRD has spent $2 million on the project.