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Flood Watch: Chicago River Could Top 6 Feet; Don't Add To The Problem

By Patty Wetli | April 29, 2017 3:02pm | Updated on May 1, 2017 8:24am
 Don't add to the water flooding the city's storm sewers: take shorter showers, flush less frequently and make sure storm drains are cleared of debris.
Don't add to the water flooding the city's storm sewers: take shorter showers, flush less frequently and make sure storm drains are cleared of debris.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

ALBANY PARK — With several inches of rain expected to fall over the weekend, conditions are ripe for flooding.

According to the National Weather Service, the North Branch of the Chicago River, which stood below one-and-a-half feet as of noon on Saturday, is forecast to hit 6.2 feet late Sunday, a height that would rank among the waterway's top 10 historic crests.

A number of factors have combined to give the North Branch a "flashy" hydrology, meaning the water level goes up very quickly during a storm and down quickly afterward.

"Action" stage for the river is five feet, flood stage is seven.

Don't make a bad situation worse by overwhelming the city's storm sewers when they're already maxed out.

Because storm water and waste water travel through the same pipes in Chicago, cutting household water consumption creates more room in the drain pipes for storm runoff, and that means less water flowing into the river.

Conservation tips for "overflow action days" include: taking shorter showers, not flushing after every bathroom break and holding off on running the dishwasher or doing laundry.

Got a storm drain in the street outside your home? Make sure it's cleared of debris (it's as simple as using a stick, as Ald. James Cappleman demonstrated).

The North Branch has overflowed its banks three times in the past decade, forcing residents of Albany Park and North Park to be evacuated from their homes by boat.

A storm water diversion tunnel is under construction to protect those neighborhoods but won't be operational until 2018.