Preventative Flood Structures May Have Saved the Riverwalk

It was a record-setting spring, as Naperville saw its most rain ever in the month of May. The city recorded 8.25 inches of water, which beat a prior record of 8.21 inches set in 2018.

High waters engulfed parts of the city’s riverwalk and flooded the area for a couple of days.

Structural damages were minimal, but city officials had other concerns.

“Erosion is the biggest concern when that volume of water with the velocity that comes through here it can scour,” said Riverwalk Chairman Geoff Roehll. “We’ve spent ten’s of thousands of dollars doing minor repairs along the shoreline of our own riverwalk from flood damage.”

How Did Preventative Flood Structures Help?

Thankfully there wasn’t significant erosion, partially due to preventative flood structures that stopped the water from overflowing onto the streets as it did in the 1996 flood.

Permeable sidewalks along Water Street act as a filtration mechanism. When it rains, water goes through the cracks of bricks, but rocks and soil act as a natural dissolution before it reaches the DuPage River.

Along the riverwalk’s walls there are vaults capable of holding up to nearly 209,000 gallons of storm water.

“There are several window wells that are located along this vault, that let the water back not the vault during the high flow events,” said Bill Novack, the director of Transportation, Engineering and Development for the City of Naperville. “And when the river goes down it will spill out of these and then out through the pipe and back into the river.”

The vaults have no bottom so the water naturally percolates into the ground.

These recent measures were taken to avoid damages to nearby businesses, and homes like in 1996. They also allowed the Riverwalk to live on.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.

Watch other stories about the Riverwalk Commission or learn more about them

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