Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.
   
     
     
     



Deep Tunnel -- finished after 30 years, $3 billion

Thursday, July 13, 2006
Pioneer Press
by JOHN HUSTON | STAFF WRITER

It may be Chicago's version of the Egyptian Pyramids or the Great Wall of China.
But you will probably never see it.
As far as engineering feats go, the Deep Tunnel project has few rivals in regards to timespan and money.
After 30 years and more than $3 billion, the first phase of what is formally called the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan has been completed.
Technology developed specifically for the project, such as tunnel boring machines designed to spiral through limestone, was later used to create the Chunnel underneath the English Channel.
In Chicago, 350 feet below the surface, a series of pipes snake underground -- from Wilmette to the Loop, over to LaGrange and up to O'Hare Airport, as well as a system in southern Cook County.
The goal was to prevent sewage and stormwater from spilling into rivers and canals.
Before the project started, one inch of rainfall during a storm could inundate the combined sewer system with 5 billion gallons of water. The problem was that the sewage treatment system was designed to treat fewer than 2 billion gallons a day.
Without open fields or wetlands in the dense urban sprawl of Chicagoland, the waste water was sent into rivers and canals -- an environmental concern which also led to basement flooding.
In 1972, engineers from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the City of Chicago, Cook County and state agencies developed the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan. The United States Environmental Protection Agency provided nearly 75 percent of the funding for the project, which broke ground in 1976.
Nearly a decade later, in 1985, the first 31 miles of tunnel -- from Wilmette to south suburban Hodgkins -- was completed and put into service. Other tunnel systems were constructed underneath the Des Plaines River, from O'Hare Airport south to LaGrange, and under the Cal-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River.
Reservoirs next
Now that the tunnels are finished, the second phase of the project -- the reservoir portion -- will take center stage.
Three huge reservoirs -- one at O'Hare, another in McCook and one in Thornton -- will be able to hold nearly 16 billion gallons of wastewater, and are expected to prevent flooding and pollution.
The first reservoir was completed at O'Hare in 1998.
"If we continue to receive federal dollars to stay on schedule with this project, the McCook reservoir will hopefully be completed by 2015," said Terrence O'Brien, president of the Water Reclamation District's Board of Commissioners.
The Thornton reservoir will likely be completed by 2023.
That makes the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan a 50-year project, from inception to completion.
But the tunnel portion of the project has already begun to show its benefit, said Peggy Bradley, spokeswoman for the Water Reclamation District.
A recent study shows there were 10 species of fish in the Chicago and Calumet river systems in 1974. By the time the first Deep Tunnel section was opened in 1985, that number had already grown to more than 40.
By 2005, there were nearly 70 species of fish in the two rivers' systems.
"The fish can't live in the river if it's dirty and filled with sewage," Bradley said. "The increase in the number of fish in the last 30 years is a great indicator."
Cameron Davis, president of Alliance for Great Lakes, agreed in Deep Tunnel's apparent success.
"It's already proven that it's benefiting water quality in the region, which is our lifeblood, so that's been really important," Davis said. "We've seen fish come back and we've seen the river and the lakefront become places that people gather and flock to rather than avoid, and that's been good for Chicago and the suburbs."
But he also stressed that more needs to be done.
"Will Deep Tunnel solve all our problems?" Davis asked. "If you ask the (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) you will never get them to say yes. And they shouldn't."
He said two main objectives need to be followed to ensure environmental gains continue, to capitalize on Deep Tunnel's success and to prevent further top-dollar expenditures.
'Green' infrastructure
One of the objectives is to implement "green" infrastructure, the rooftop garden on Chicago's City Hall, for example, as well as other similar projects at O'Hare Airport and McCormick Place.
"What would have gone to a treatment plan is now going to a garden to water it," Davis said. "You use the garden as a way to handle storm water and waste water."
New "green" advancements are being created that should to be incorporated into the infrastructure, he added, such as green gutters, green curbs and permeable pavement, which is being experimented with in Chicago's 48th Ward on the North Side.
Such pavement allows water to seep through and into the underlying earth, instead of collecting in the sewer to further burden the treatment system.
The other objective will fall directly on the Water Reclamation District, Davis said.
"If we want to continue to see improved water quality we need to get serious about disinfecting waste water," he said.
Many metropolitan areas disinfect their waste water supply, but Chicago is not one of them, Davis said.
While Deep Tunnel is a success, the future needs to incorporate less brick-and-mortar in its solution to clean water, he added.
"At the end of the day, nature has already figured out how to engineer our life support systems in this region and around the planet," Davis said. "The more we try to mimic instead of working against those natural systems the better. And the less expensive, usually."


Recent Headlines

Illinois Land Title Association Granted Summary Judgment in Case against Cook County Recorder of Deeds
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Illinois State Bar Association

Grand Jury Indicts Debt Collector of Bribing Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown
Friday, March 15, 2019
WBBM Chicago

Indictment: Cook County's hired debt collector charged with bribing county officials to secure county contract
Friday, March 15, 2019
Cook County record

Karen Chavers Honored as 2019 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Pappas to announce deadline for Cook County property owners to pay late taxes
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Courts Cause Confusion For Woman Trying To Resolve Her Case
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
CBS Chicago

Census changes raise fears of Illinois undercounting
Monday, March 11, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Sheriff Warns of Apple Phone Scam
Monday, March 11, 2019
WTTW News

Caller poses as Apple to get victims personal info in scam targeting Cook County residents
Monday, March 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

Should Young Adults Be Sent To Juvenile Courts?
Sunday, March 10, 2019
NPR Radio

Cook County Jail hires 2nd consecutive mental health professional as warden
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawsuit: Sheriff jailed dozens because of faulty electronic monitoring devices
Monday, March 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Woman dies while in custody at Cook County Jail
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Fox 32

City considers landmarking old Cook County Hospital
Friday, March 01, 2019
Gazette Chicago

Judge: State constitution doesn't force Cook County to spend $250M more on roads, transport projects
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Cook County Rrecord

City Club of Chicago: Cook County Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Monocchio
Thursday, February 28, 2019
WGN Chicago

Illinois hospitals seek reform of Medicaid managed care system
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Effingham Daily News

Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic’s Annual Report
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Glenview open house a 'one stop service' for new, existing residents to learn about town offerings
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Glenview Announcements

Here's how much more south suburban homeowners pay in taxes
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP