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Full text of remarks to the Carol Stream Village Board

August 2, 2010

Good evening,

My name is Robert Guico, and I lead the Carol Stream Bikes advocacy group. On a better day, I would be talking about how to make Carol Stream a better place to work and play by making it a better place to bike. However, today, I wanted to share my role in monitoring flooding in Carol Stream, and the storm of July 23-24. I currently run a blog, the Carol Stream Hydrology Blog, at https://cshydro.wordpress.com. I am also a rainfall monitor for CoCoRaHS, a network of volunteers who own high-capacity rain gauges and report 24-hour rainfall amounts to a website, http://www.cocorahs.org. I have lived in Carol Stream for the past five years.

On the afternoon of Friday, July 23, the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, the branch of the National Weather Service that specializes in predicting flooding and heavy rainfall events, issued a forecast for a HIGH risk of flash flooding for the Carol Stream area. This was such a rare forecast that I sent an email to a group of residents with whom I have discussed flood issues in the past.

That night, rain did not start falling until 10:30 PM. I gathered rainfall rates and totals through 4:30 AM, got two hours of sleep, moved my cars twice, and continued to update the blog. By 6:30 AM, with 7.28″ of rain measured in my rain gauge, I was aware of the scope of the flooding issues to come.

Preventing flooding from occurring is a difficult task made worse by misinformation, and by climate change causing more frequent heavy rainfall events. Today, however, I want to direct anyone who is a landowner in the Klein Creek watershed to seriously reconsider how to manage storm water on their property by creating bioswales.

The Klein Creek watershed is 13 square miles in area, from Costco east to Stratford Square, and south to Geneva Road. For most landowners in this area, during heavy rainfall events, rainfall flows off roofs and turf grass, and into the street. From there, water drains into street-level storm drains and runs into Klein Creek. Every drop that enters the storm drains directly contributes to flooding downstream in Armstrong Park. The village should consider using other tools to fight flooding.

The village, Park District, and schools in the watershed must set an example and work with local residents to use bioswales to slow the rush of storm water into the stormwater system. New development should require storm water management for 100-year storms and utilize permeable pavement. Every drop captured and sent to the local aquifer is one drop less that becomes floodwater.

The village should identify and contain water where it enters the stormwater system. For example, water from 13 backyards flow through my backyard on its way to the curb. For my part, I will convert 75 square feet of parkway on my property into a bioswale, for test purposes.

The village should strongly consider retaining the services of natural stormwater experts, like The Conservation Foundation (or the Center for Neighborhood Technology), to assist with these goals. (I do not work for The Conservation Foundation; I have bought two rain barrels from them.) Neither the village of Carol Stream nor DuPage County has the millions of dollars needed to build the “Phase II Main Stem Project”. We must consider implementing lower-cost, but equally effective, natural stormwater solutions.

The projects the village decides to pursue must be based on cost-effectiveness. The village could spend $3 million on a green roof for Village Hall, but that $3 million is best spent on other, less flashy projects.

For the residents living in the Klein Creek watershed, we need to think about stormwater differently. In heavy rain, turfgrass is as effective as asphalt in preventing water from entering the stormwater system. We need the village to support prairie plants, with their deep root systems, in the parkway. We need to accept that if we do not build more bioswales in parkways across the watershed, flooding will continue to affect downstream residences as it has in the past two years.

Flooding and stormwater management is a difficult and complex problem, but more can be done to prevent it. Residents want answers. Replacing turfgrass with bioswales that slow down and capture runoff may be part of the solution.

You can contact me through leaving a comment on my website at https://cshydro.wordpress.com. Thank you, and have a good evening.

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