In observance of National Flood Awareness Week, DuPage County Stormwater Management opened its Elmhurst Quarry Flood Control Facility to the public on Saturday. Held in partnership with the Elmhurst Historical Museum and Elmhurst Park District, nearly 300 people registered to get a rare, inside look at this DuPage County landmark.
During the event, Stormwater Management Committee Chairman Jim Zay said DuPage County residents learned about the history of the quarry, as well as how the County uses it to manage floodwater today.
"The Elmhurst Quarry is a staple in both the City of Elmhurst and DuPage County, and people are very interested to learn what happens there behind the scenes," said Zay. "It's common for residents to tell us about their ancestors who worked at the Quarry or their memories of it growing up, which adds a special element to the day."
The Elmhurst Quarry was founded in 1882; only a year after Elmhurst itself was incorporated. Crews quarried, and then mined, for limestone at the site for more than 100 years until it was converted into a landfill for clean construction debris.
Following massive flooding throughout the area in 1987 and a subsequent study of the surrounding Salt Creek Watershed, DuPage County purchased the Quarry in 1992 to use it for flood water storage. The Quarry was then converted into a flood control facility that began functioning in 1996.
"Converting the Quarry into a flood control facility was a massive engineering undertaking. To move floodwater from Salt Creek to the quarry on the other side of Illinois Route 83, crews had to install a 400-foot, 14-feet wide tunnel under the road," added Zay. "We believe the effort was worth it, as the quarry protects more properties, by far, than any other flood control facility in the County."
With a capacity of 2.7 billion gallons, the Elmhurst Quarry is the largest of four mechanically-operated flood control facilities in DuPage County. Using a predetermined operating plan, DuPage County Stormwater Management staff allows floodwater to enter the Quarry until water elevations recede enough to pump the water back into Salt Creek.
During flood operations, the public may view real-time video images and rain and stream gage information at http://ec.dupageco.org/dec/stormwater/watershed/index.html.