The Village of River Forest is committed to managing stormwater and reducing flooding where possible. To that end, the Village has an annual sewer maintenance program, regularly studies long-term capital improvements, encourages environmental best practices and has implemented resident assistance programs to reduce flooding of individual homes.

See below for more information on the Village's flood control program:

North River Forest Sewer Study

In 2012, the Village retained the services of Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. (CBBE) to review the stormwater management recommendations presented in the North Avenue Area Flood Mitigation Report (FluidClarity, Ltd., March 2012).  Click here to review a copy of that report.

CBBE presented their review of this report at the November 12th Village Board meeting and discussed alternatives for stormwater improvements in the area north of Division Street.  Subsequent to the November 12th Village Board meeting, CBBE developed additional project alternatives and presented them at the December 10th Village Board meeting.  At the February 19, 2013 Village Board meeting, CBBBE presented the Greenfield Street Alternative plan. The Village Board was unanimous in that the Greenfield plan was the best option available to the Village and will be holding a community meeting on Monday, April 29th at 7pm at Concordia University (in the Christopher Center) to present and discuss the Greenfield Street Alternative with the community. Below is a link to the agenda materials and presentation from the February 19th Village Board meeting.

Christopher Burke Flood Mitigation Presentation 

For more information about the funding options for the Northside Sewer Project as well as a interest survey and approximate cost calculator, please click here.  

Des Plaines River Gaging Station

The Village and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) worked collaboratively to install a stage-only gaging station on the Lake Street bridge over the Des Plaines River. The new gaging station will automatically transmit river level data to the USGS via radio telemetry equipment. In addition to transmitting river level data, the gaging station will be a river forecast site for the National Weather Service (NWS) and will predict river crests and water elevations in the days following a rain event. The USGS has begun transmitting river level data that can be accessed on the USGS website (click here). Also, for the latest updated river information go to NOAA's website Des Plaines River at River Forest

The NWS indicates that river level forecasting may take several months to develop.

The USGS WaterAlert service sends e-mail and text messages when certain parameters exceed user-definable thresholds.  These thresholds are based on time (daily, hourly) and/or gage height (river level).  This is available to the general public and will require the user to subscribe (at no cost) to the WaterAlert System.  To request notifications through this service, click on the WaterAlert hyperlink that is located below River Forest's graph on the USGS website (or click here) 

Combined Sewer Overflows

On February 26, 2007 the Village held a Public Information Meeting to present a Pollution Prevention Plan, Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Operations & Maintenance Plan and a Public Notification Plan in accordance with requirements of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits for the Village of River Forest Permit No. ILM580024. The links above describe the Village's actions to help improve water quality in the Des Plaines River by reducing or eliminating potential pollution from the Village's combined sewers.

MWRD Stormwater Materials

The Village of River Forest is served by combined sewers that transport both sanitary sewage (from sinks, showers, toilets, etc.) and stormwater (rainfall) in the same piping system.  The capacity of the Village’s combined sewer system, which is similar to nearly all other combined sewer systems in the Cook County area, is not adequate to carry the peak flow and oftentimes results in pressurized sewers during periods of intense rains.  When pressurized, the combined sewage will backflow through house laterals into basements if there is no backflow prevention.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) has developed an educational and informative brochure that provides an overview of the combined sewer systems and explains how these systems operate during rainstorms. Click here to view the brochure

Resident Assistance Program- Protect Your Basement

The Village has funding available for a program designed to help subsidize the installation of eligible flood control improvements such as overhead sewers or backflow prevention valves. With backflow prevention, buildings can be protected against the occasional backup of the Village's combined sewer system. In the standard subsidy program, property owners can receive a subsidy covering 50% of the costs of eligible improvements up to a maximum reimbursement amount of $4,000.

In addition to the standard subsidy program, the Village has approved variable subsidies for the Program to Protect Basements. This tiered subsidy program increases the subsidy levels for certain properties located in high risk areas and high risk-limited access areas. These variable subsidies, which are only available for eligible properties, are as follows:

  • High Risk Location: covers 80% of the costs of eligible improvements up to a maximum reimbursement amount of $6,000

  • High Risk-Limited Access Location: covers 80% of the costs of eligible improvements up to a maximum reimbursement amount of $7,500

Click here for Information Packet.

Click here to contact Public Works if you have additional questions.

Senior Basement Protection Program

The Village has a grant program for senior citizens who are unable to afford the cost of a basement protection system for their residential sewer lines. The Senior Basement Protection Grant will work with the existing "Protect Your Basement" Program. Senior citizens who qualify will be eligible to have remaining cost paid for by this grant. 

In order to qualify, senior citizens must meet the following criteria:

  • Qualify under the current regulations for the Village’s Protect Basement Program
  • Be age 65 or older
  • Have a total household income of $55,000 or less for previous tax year and provide proof of income or other significant financial hardship
  • Be the owner of the property
  • Use the property as principal place of residence

Click here for additional information

Click here for an application form

Pump Loaner Program

The Village has a Pump Loaner Program to assist residents experiencing rear yard flooding associated with heavy rains and snow melt. Rear yard flooding can approach foundations/basement windows which could cause basement flooding. The Village has three electric submersible pumps and is making them available to residents interested in pumping surface water out of rear yards.

Important Pump Loaner Program information:

  • These loaner pumps are for outdoor use only.

  • Pumps are available on a first come-first serve basis and are equipped with instructions on how to set up and operate. The Village will maintain a waiting list during periods of high demand.

  • Residents must pick up and drop off the pumps at the Village Hall (400 Park Avenue).

  • Residents are required to fully execute this Hold Harmless Agreement.

  • Pump systems will be loaned out for a period of 24 hours and must be returned within that timeframe and in working condition. A $100 fine will be assessed for returning the pump and all accessory equipment late.

To participate in this program, residents should contact the Village to request the use of a pump. Contact information is as follows:

  1. Call 708-366-8500 (Public Works) during normal work hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

  2. Call 708-366-7125 (West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center) outside normal work hours: after 4:30 PM during the week and on weekends and holidays.

Flood Safety

Listed below are important flood safety tips:

  • Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Currents can be deceptive. If you walk in standing water be sure to use a pole or stick to ensure that firm ground is ahead.

  • Do not drive through a flooded area. This includes road barriers. Barriers are there for your protection.

  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical current travels through water. If you see downed power lines report them immediately by dialing 911.

  • Have your electricity turned off by Commonwealth Edison. If you have been flooded you should be aware that some appliances, such as televisions, hold electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Do not use appliances or motors that have been wet unless they have been cleaned and checked by a professional. Commonwealth Edison's phone number is 1-800-Edison1 (1-800-334-7661).

  • Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated. Nicor's emergency phone number is 1-888-Nicor4u (1-888-642-6748).

  • Look out for animals. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours.

  • Clean everything that got wet. Floodwaters may have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics, and medicine can be health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.

Tips to Prevent Flooding in Your Home

Helpful Tips to Prevent Flooding

  • Make sure downspouts from your roof’s gutters direct water away from your house and are not connected to the sewer.

  • Purchase and install a sump pump in your household. If a sump pump is already installed, make sure that it directs water away from your house. Strongly consider adding a battery backup to the sump pump system in the event of a power outage.

  • If you have an overhead sewer with an ejector pump, make sure your sump pump does not direct water into the ejector pit.

  • Consult with a licensed and bonded contractor (or plumber) to assess your home and analyze how your home’s sewer system works.

  • Televise and clean sewer laterals (the part of the sewer going from your house to the street) to prevent sewer back-ups.

  • Participate in the Village’s program to protect basements in which the Village will subsidize the installation of eligible flood control improvements, such as overhead sewers (highly recommended) or backflow prevention valves, by 50% - up to a maximum reimbursement of $4,000. Click here  for more details.

What to do if you experience flooding in your home

  • Make sure there are no electric wires that are under the water level. If there are, do not attempt to enter the flooded area and contact the River Forest Fire Department.

  • If you have standing water in your basement, disconnect the main electrical switch.

  • Move items out of the flooded area as soon as possible. Clean items with strong disinfectant. Allow wet items to air-dry as quickly as possible to prevent rot and mildew. (Because the water may be contaminated with bacteria, while cleaning make sure to wear rubber gloves, boots, and try to avoid direct contact with the water.)

  • Wash down concrete or brick walls, floors, faucets etc. that have been under water, first with clean water, then soapy warm water. Sweep water and sediment down the drain or to the sump pump. If the area is carpeted, the best option is to rip up the wet, contaminated carpet and replace it.

  • Dry out the flooded area as quickly as possible. Suck up the water with a Wet-Dry vacuum, turn on your air conditioner and utilize several de-humidifiers and fans.

  • Remove basement wall baseboards and drill 1" holes halfway between the wall studs at the base of the walls, about 2" off the floor. When you re-install the baseboards, they will cover these holes. The holes will allow moist air from behind the drywall or paneling to be dried as the de-humidifiers suck out the humidity.

  • Check for mold. If mold is found, apply a fungicide directly onto the affected area. When the area dries, cover it with a mold encapsulating paint. If there is extensive mold growth, consider ripping out the drywall or wood affected or contacting a professional mold remediation company.

  • Contact your insurance company if you have homeowners or renters insurance for flooding.

  • Hire a professional contractor to conduct an assessment of your home and complete basement waterproofing and structural foundation repair.

If Raw Sewage Backed Up Into Your Home

  • Keep people and pets away from the affected area.

  • Turn off your central heat and air system and prevent flow from reaching floor vents.

  • Strongly consider calling an experienced restoration company for cleanup and removal of affected surfaces. Leave items in the affected area for the experts to handle.

  • Report a claim to your homeowner's insurance carrier.

  • If you had recent plumbing work, contact your plumber or contractor.

  • Contact the Village to inquire about the subsidy program to install overhead sewers or backflow prevention valves to prevent future back-up problems.

Helpful Links to Protect Your Home & Recover From a Flood