State grants to provide green solutions for Berwyn flooding

BERWYN – Three Illinois Green Infrastructure Grants totaling $2.2 million are expected to bring some additional and partial relief to Berwyn's flooding problems, which some residents have been critical about at recent village meetings.

Last month, traffic engineer Nicole Campbell announced the city was notified it had received grants from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which provides grants to communities for green infrastructure best management practices, which includes measures for storm water control.

“We applied three years before we were approved,” Public Works Director Robert Schiller said. “We are happy to say we were successful in our third attempt. Nicole Campbell has worked very hard on these things.”

The grants will be used to cover the costs of three green infrastructure projects planned by the city, including the Green Alleys program.

The Green Alleys program calls for replacing 8,480 square yards of concrete alleys in Berwyn with either pervious concrete, or permeable paving bricks. Both systems allow rain water to soak through into the ground, instead of pooling and causing storm water runoff. Schiller said a final design has not yet been decided.

“There are several things that can be considered for green alleys,” Schiller said. “There’s pervious pavers, pervious concrete, different ways of designing these things.”

However, a concrete shortage affecting the entire Great Lakes region, according to the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association,
may determine which materials are ultimately used in the program, Schiller said. According to the Transportation Builders Association, the shortage is more of a logistic problem than a lack of capacity or effort by the concrete industry.

Schiller said the city’s sidewalk program may have to be suspended until April because of the shortage.

Another green project, The Berwyn Depot Streetscape Project, includes replacing a yet to be decided number of asphalt parking spaces with porous pavement to eliminate runoff, adding tree boxes to support trees and their root systems, and bioswales, a feature resembling a ditch that collects, absorbs and cleans water before it seeps into the water table. Native plants will be planted throughout the district to keep soil and pollutants in place. The state is providing $750,000 of the total $1.26 million for the project.

The state is also providing $42,000 of the projected $56,000 cost of the Residential Downspout disconnection program. The program is expected to cover the expense of disconnecting downspouts for about 500 homes. By disconnecting downspouts from the storm sewer system, the volume of storm water in the entering the combined sewer system is expected to be reduced by 50 percent, city official said.