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Stormwater Management

Building resilient communities by improving stormwater planning and investments

MPC works to prevent flooding, improve water quality and foster social, economic and environmental benefits within communities. We work with a range of stakeholders at the state, regional and local levels to build resilient communities by pairing strategic investment in green infrastructure nature-based solutions with essential grey infrastructure improvements.

Stormwater is often a costly nuisance

In metropolitan Chicago, modest rain and snow melt overwhelm grey infrastructure, the pumps and pipes making up our sewer systems. Sewage and stormwater overflows cause flooding in homes and businesses.  Flooding disproportionately affects minority and low-income neighborhoods. Such overflows also negatively affect the water quality of Chicago Area Waterways System, impacting people and aquatic life from the Illinois River to the Mississippi. This problem is expected to worsen as storms grow larger and more frequent due to climate change.

Recognize stormwater as a resource

Stormwater does not obey jurisdictional boundaries. Such a regional issue is beyond the scope and capacity of a single municipality or organization. Planning and implementing both grey and green stormwater solutions across municipal boundaries is imperative. MPC has been working with diverse stakeholders on regional approaches to stormwater as a vital component in the next wave of innovation for solving urban flooding and stormwater-related challenges.

To best manage large volumes of rain, the Chicago region needs to repair outdated or build new grey infrastructure while also integrating green infrastructure—such as rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable paving—into building and property management practices.

MPC focuses on heightening coordinated planning and investments. MPC partners with communities and policymakers to improve local investments, access funding sources, drive regional collaboration, and develop useful tools. Municipalities apply our tools to bolster local capacity for managing stormwater and building regional climate resilience.

Learn about how we collaborate across disciplines and geographies:

Calumet Stormwater Collaborative

Stakeholders coordinating to solve regional stormwater and flooding challenges

MPC facilitates the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative (CSC), a diverse group of stakeholders working to improve coordination of knowledge, technology and financial resources to minimize the negative impacts of stormwater in the Calumet region. The CSC builds intergovernmental and cross-sector partnerships to drive coordination across boundaries and jurisdictions to solve regional stormwater and flooding challenges.

Model behavior

A Framework for Regional, Inter-jurisdictional, and Multi-level Stormwater Planning

Water knows no boundaries. Following the path of least resistance, it flows downhill, often crossing many arbitrary lines: municipal borders, infrastructure rights, planning areas, and modeling extents. While water may not respect these border lines, they nevertheless inform our decisions as water resource managers, elected officials, property owners and citizens—so they matter a great deal.

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), working in concert with CH2M, a global engineering leader with experience in the Chicago region, created this Regional Planning Framework because we believe that the ability to plan and implement stormwater solutions across boundaries is a vital component of the next wave of innovation in solving flooding and other stormwater-related challenges.

Learn more about how we unlock financing for stormwater improvements:

Watershed planning through newly accessible IEPA grants

Non-profits, municipalities, and other groups are newly eligible for funding  

MPC partnered in order to spread the wealth.

Steady Streams

View this guide to establishing dedicated funding for stormwater management

Managing flooding and building and maintaining stormwater infrastructure are not new components of most cities’ public works programs. However there is a growing need to ensure adequate and reliable funding streams are available at the municipal scale to reduce increasing street flooding, basement back-ups, as well as erosion, contamination and degradation of rivers and lakes, which arise from inadequately managed stormwater. The purpose of this guide is: to identify what avenues are available for municipalities to reliably and consistently generate adequate funds to manage stormwater.

Learn more about harnessing market forces for stormwater management:

Stormwater credit trading

An equitable solution for flooding and pollution in Chicago

Read about how MPC and partners are learning about innovative stormwater credit trading from leading examples like Washington, D.C.

Solutions at every scale

Managing stormwater is a matter of ensuring quality of life for everyone. Investing in stormwater infrastructure to address flooding problems can catalyze other positive changes in communities. When it rains throughout our region, some people and communities will need more planning and investment than others to respond, recover and build resilience to the next storm. Increasing regional coordination and innovative approaches can ensure that solutions are reaching our most flood-prone areas.

Learn more