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Green Stormwater Infrastructure Along Our Great Rivers

Image Credit: OAI, Inc.

OAI is focused on maintenance of local green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to ensure the health and performance of these assets in flood-prone communities. Through service sharing, worker training, direct maintenance and new installations, OAI is supporting healthy river ecosystems, managing stormwater and providing community amenities.

This spring, in partnership with the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Cardno (now Stantec) and the Village of Alsip, OAI facilitated a GSI maintenance training event at a newly planted GSI site in the Village of Alsip. 50 participants attended to learn the basics of GSI maintenance, tree care and safety. OAI continues to collaborate with municipalities and landowners to equip workers with the tools required to effectively maintain GSI installations.

A controlled burn in early spring along the Little Calumet River. Image Credit: Stantec

Fays Point Marina, on the Little Calumet River was once the site of a thriving GSI installation near the Cal-Sag Trail. Due to a lack of capacity for maintenance the site had become overcome with phragmites and purple loosestrife. OAI is working with the landowner to provide GSI maintenance to bring the site back to a condition where maintenance is manageable. This has included a controlled burn and regular maintenance visits. It will likely take a few cycles to bring the site back to a state that is manageable for the landowner and provide benefit to the river system and surrounding community.

Mayor Bryant speaks during a ground-breaking ceremony for the Robbins Stormwater Park. Image Credit: OAI, Inc.

The Robbins Stormwater Park project celebrated its groundbreaking event on August 12, 2022! This $20 million flood control project in the Village of Robbins will help address overbank flooding through a new stormwater park and pond, along with improvements to Midlothian Creek and an overflow channel that connects to the Cal-Sag Channel. The project will increase the existing stormwater drainage system from less than a 5-year storm level of protection to a 100-year level of service, remove approximately 140 acres from the flood plain, protect 92 structures and remove more than 1,300 parcels from the 100-year floodplain. The project is intended to have a park-like aesthetic, so the area will be an amenity for the community while at the same time reducing flooding and providing economic development opportunities. 

This project represents a unique partnership between the Village of Robbins, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and OAI—as well as many other partners, funders, and advocates. And through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chi-Cal Rivers Fund, OAI is pleased to be the GSI installation partner on this project. In addition to GSI installation, OAI will provide training and workforce development in the field of native planting, installation, and maintenance by facilitating a training session for Village staff, local workers, and volunteers. This initiative represents what is possible when agencies collaborate together, work with communities, and leverage multiple funding sources.