Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

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.

  The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trade 60% of the world futures contracts.

County ordinance marks good week for those sick of flooded basements

Sunday, May 04, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
by Editorial

People worried about basement flooding, closed beaches and tainted drinking water got good news last week.

On Thursday, the Cook County Watershed Management Ordinance went into effect after 10 years of work, quietly but thankfully. The new rules will go a long way toward keeping flooding and waterway pollution in the region from getting worse. The new rules also mean it’s time to step up other efforts to fix the stormwater problems we already have.

As the metropolis has grown, more and more land that once soaked up rainwater has been used for pavement or buildings. In Chicago, almost 60 percent of the land is covered. As a result, just an inch of rain in the city produces about 4 billion gallons of stormwater that has to go somewhere. Too often, it goes into our basements or causes a “Lake Michigan reversal,” when the locks separating the Chicago and Calumet rivers from Lake Michigan are opened, allowing combined stormwater and sewage to spill into the lake. You know, the same lake we swim in. And drink out of.

Now, any new construction in Cook County will have to conform with regulations on drainage, detention, volume control, floodplain management, wetland and environment protection, soil erosion and sediment. Similar rules already were in place in the collar counties. That should keep new development from dumping more stormwater into sewers and waterways that can’t handle what we already have.

But we still have a legacy of older development that pipes stormwater directly into sewer systems, where it carries runoff into local waterways along with so much fertilizer and other pollutants that it actually contributes to the creation of a dead zone where the Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico. To address that, we need a combination of old-fashioned “gray” engineering — bigger pipes and bigger detention ponds — and “green” engineering — land uses such as forest preserves, floodplains and wetlands that absorb rainwater, as well as rain barrels, rain gardens, porous pavements, “green” roofs, tree boxes and anything else that capture rainwater instead of sending it into sewers.

The best-known gray engineering project is the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, also called the Deep Tunnel, which began in 1972 and is supposed to be finished in 2029. TARP, which eventually will be able to store 20 billion gallons of water, will make a big difference, but it won’t be enough.

In Chicago, green engineering got a boost last week when the city announced its $50 million Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy. The strategy calls for the Department of Water Management help make green infrastructure part of capital projects. In 2014, the department will spend $6.1 million on 39 projects to keep water out of sewers.

Meanwhile, the MWRD plans to distribute 15,000 rain barrels over the next few years, pay for rain gardens at schools and implement other plans to let rainwater seep into the ground, where it can recharge aquifers instead of adding to flooding. On the federal level, Chicago recently received $1 million worth of Shoreline Cities grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for green infrastructure.

We’ve come a long way from where we were in the 1840s, when primitive handling of sewage caused thousands of deaths from cholera and diphtheria. But we have a long way to go.

Last week was the best week for stormwater management the city has seen in a long time. We need more weeks like it.

Recent Headlines

Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli on Gun Violence, Police Database.
Monday, August 26, 2019

Assessor: Homes values, sale prices up in Schaumburg Township
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Daily Herald

Home improvement grant designed to get the lead out
Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Cook County census panel seeks outreach help for hard-to-count communities
Monday, August 19, 2019

Cook County Land Bank Authority Announces Opening of Registration to Give Away a Free Home
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
The Chicago Crusader

Friday, August 09, 2019
Illinois Policy

America’s most interesting sheriff
Friday, August 09, 2019

Top Cook County Jail chess players take on the world
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Public defender takes shots at Chicago Police gun offender webpage
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Commentary: Data alone won’t stop Chicago gun violence; Cook County needs a public ‘Violence Reduction Dashboard’
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail detainees take on inmates around the world in online chess tournament
Tuesday, August 06, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Ongoing Bail Debate In Chicago
Monday, August 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Jail hosts international chess tournament
Monday, August 05, 2019
WGN Chicago

Cook County property taxes are due today, Aug. 1.
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Special to

Forest Preserves of Cook County Celebrate Dan Ryan Woods Investments
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Defender

Cook County TIFs generate $1.2 billion
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Changes coming to Cook County assessor’s office
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

In Chicago, TIF Revenues Soaring
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A controversial tax subsidy program will generate a record $1.2 billion in revenue. Here’s what the number means for Chicago.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Group to rally in support of Kim Foxx as challengers emerge
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

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