In 1986 regional flooding strongly impacted Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will Counties in northeastern Illinois causing 4"-10" of rain and $34.6 million in damages. The following year rain in Cook and DuPage County of 3"-9" created damages of $77.6 million. More than 100 cars, trucks and buses were stranded on the Eden's Expressway. 3000 homes were damaged in Cook and Dupage Counties. Four deaths occurred and 300 vehicles were trapped in intersections in water as high as six feet.
A decade later in 1996, storms created $564 million in damages in July 1996 and $40 million in August 1997. Average Annual damages in the region were estimated in 1998 at $28.7 million affecting 200 communities, not including damages in the Central Basin Watershed which is estimated at $151 million annually.
The Des Plaines River has a long history of flooding that has caused an estimated $35 million in damage to 10,000 dwellings and 263 businesses and industrial sites. More than 15,000 residents have been evacuated from the flooded area.
A variety of projects and studies to alleviate these recurring issues were begun, including a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted feasibility study of the Upper Des Plaines River from the Wisconsin/Illinois state line to Hofmann Dam in Riverside (excluding Salt Creek). The Study, published in June, 1999, included recommendations to construct four storage facilities and two levees and was authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 1999.
Six areas were selected to focus on in Des Plaines River Phase 1.
- Van Patton Woods Lateral Storage Area
- North Fork Mill Creek Reservoir
- Buffalo Creek Reservoir Expansion
- Big Bend Lake
- Levee 37 - Prospect Heights/Mount Prospect
- Levee 50 - Rand Park
Levee 50 Phase I
This project works in conjunction with the Phase II and Phase III projects and protects portions of the City of Des Plaines from the flood waters of the Des Plaines River.
The project consisted of extending an existing culvert under the Union Pacific Railroad and constructing an outlet headwall with a tide flex check valve between Miner Street and Campground Road.
Levee 50 Phase II
This project works in conjunction with the Phase I and Phase III projects and protects portions of the city of Des Plaines from flood waters that back up from the Des Plaines River through Farmer Creek.
The project consisted of constructing a pump station with three pumps, each having a capacity of around 40,000 gallons per minute, a 200 foot long concrete flood wall, a 3,800 foot long clay blanket placed along the riverside of the Union Pacific Railroad and six sluice gates.
The area protected by the project is predominantly residential with some commercial and industrial development. Approximately 181 buildings/structures are protected by this flood control project.
Levee 50 Phase III
This project works in conjunction with the Phase I and Phase II projects and protects potions of the city of Des Plaines from the flood waters of the Des Plaines River.
The project consisted of constructing a 2,100 foot long concrete capped steel sheet pile flood control wall and 2,500 feet of earthen levee, a lighted bike trail from Campground Road to Rand Road, two pump stations, two road closure flood gates, eight culverts with gates, storm sewers, catch basins, man holes, inlets, interior detention facilities, tide flex check valves with one being 8 feet in diameter at Big Bend Lake.
On average, flooding in the City of Des Plaines prior to construction of all three phases of Rand Park Flood Control Project caused $1,300,000 of damages annually. The flooding events in 1986 and 1987 caused over $100,000,000 of combined damages and affected over 10,000 structures. Today it is estimated that 181 structures have been removed from the flood plain with the annual damage savings of $1,315,500.