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Stormwater Alternatives Evaluation

Village Council Approves Memorandum of Understanding for Wetlands Stormwater Project

At the August 1, 2017 Regular Council meeting, Public Works Director and Village Engineer Steve Saunders briefly reviewed the process leading up to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC).  After Council discussion and full audience participation, the Village Council voted unanimously to approve the MOU and move ahead with engineering tasks and intergovernmental negotiations with other local agency stakeholders.

Several FPCC issues are addressed in the MOU: (i) the wetlands detention project can only be a part of an overall flood reduction program, not the only solution; (ii) stormwater quality must be improved before it is released to FPCC property; (iii) tree removal should be minimized, and the Village must comply with FPCC tree mitigation and license fees; (iv) Winnetka will assume long-term maintenance of the project; and (v) Winnetka will provide off-site benefits to further the goals of the FPCC.

The original proposal for the wetlands project has been revised over the course of the FPCC negotiations, resulting in an iteration that costs less than the original plan, removes fewer trees, and is more in keeping with FPCC goals.  The MOU provides agreement on the following key points:  (i) the wetland project aligns with FPCC goals and benefits both Winnetka and the FPCC; (ii) the size and scope of the project is fixed, along with the preliminary design; (iii) a water quality program is specified to clean the stormwater currently being sent through the FPCC land to the Skokie River; (iv) all fees associated for the project are fixed; and (v) a long-term maintenance plan is established, to be administered by Winnetka.

Now that the Village has approved the MOU, discussions about other potential stormwater storage projects can begin with Winnetka schools and parks – who have already demonstrated their commitment with letters of support for the MOU.  Most importantly, the Village can start work on engineering tasks without fear that these dollars are wasted on a project that will never be approved.

Look for Strand to bring a proposal for detention project engineering to the Village Council sometime in early fall.

To see the agenda report, click here.
To see Mr. Saunders’ presentation, click here.

Cook County Approves Memorandum of Understanding for Winnetka Stormwater Project

After the Willow Road Tunnel Project was set aside due to cost concerns, the Village engaged Strand Associates to re-examine alternatives to alleviate flood risk in western Winnetka. After an extensive evaluation, Strand recommended a multi-phase approach that would provide significant flood risk reduction to over 400 homes against a 100-year flood event, as well as improve stormwater quality.The lynchpin of the vision is a stormwater management wetlands project on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC), at the northwest corner of Hibbard Road and Winnetka Avenue.

When the Village Council discussed Strand’s proposed vision in June, 2016, the Council agreed the first and most important task was to secure FPDCC permission to use their land. The Council directed staff to negotiate with the FPDCC to gain sufficient assurance that a project meeting the Village’s needs would ultimately be approved by the FPDCC Board of Commissioners. For the past year, Village and FPDCC staff have been in negotiations to reach agreement on a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to delineate key project parameters in sufficient detail to gain project approval. FPDCC staff presented this draft to the FPDCC Board of Commissioners at their July 20 meeting, and it was unanimously approved. This agreement provides the Village with a high degree of certainty that the license agreement necessary for the project will ultimately be approved by the FPDCC Board of Commissioners.

The Village Council will consider approving the MOU at the August 1, 2017 Council meeting. Below are links to the Mou and its exhibits:

  1. Memorandum of Understanding

Village Evaluates Non-Tunnel Alternatives

In the spring of 2015, the Village Council discussed a project and cost updates for the Willow Road Stormwater Tunnel and Area Drainage Improvements (STADI) project prepared by MWH, the Village’s consulting engineering firm for the project. The Village and its engineers had been utilizing a 2012 cost conceptual design estimate of $34.6 million was for the STADI project. MWH further detailed the initial Tunnel design and updated costs, resulting in a new project estimate of $58.5 million in April, 2015.STMW_postcard_badge

Due to the significant increase in estimated cost, the Village engaged V3 Companies to complete an independent, third- party engineering review of the project-- primarily to assess the accuracy and reliability of the MWH estimate. In September, 2015, V3 Companies communicated an increase in cost estimate to $81.3 million. Faced with this new cost estimate, the Village Council elected to suspend further work on the STADI project and instead, further explore improvements and alternatives to a tunnel-based design for Western and Southwestern areas of Winnetka.

In October, 2015, the Council hired Strand Associates to complete a stormwater management evaluation to uncover and evaluate a series of creative, holistic, technically and scientifically sound, sustainable, feasible, and cost-effective improvements that will provide flood risk reduction for areas of southern and western Winnetka for appropriate levels of protection up to a 100-year event,


including Area L (South of Willow Road), Areas J & G (North of Willow Road – the “Tree Streets”), and Area H (Provident Study Area). Strand has a proven track record of finding creative stormwater solutions for its clients that the Village believes is critical to identifying potential flood risk reduction solutions.  

Importantly, Strand Associates was selected in part based on the firm's commitment to engaging the community.   Strand will partner with the Village to implement a proactive public outreach strategy to ensure that its work incorporates ideas, input and suggestions from members of the community, environmental stakeholders, other agencies, and government decision makers.  

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