Why are so many of Chicago's Southwest side sewers clogged?

It was a rainy weekend–but nothing significant enough to flood our streets.  All the rain should have gone down the sewers.  But around the Southwest side on the east side of Midway Airport, lots of streets have giant puddles of rain water.

Within fifteen minutes this Sunday morning, I drove from 55th to 67th, from Pulaski to Kostner, and found at least ten giant puddles of rain water near sewers.

On Keeler, two Latino men talked in Spanish about the sewers as I stopped to take a photo.  I urged them to report this to 3-1-1 and the alderman’s office.  They kind of nodded that they would.

To be fair, each time I’ve called the 13th Ward office, the alderman or his staff has responded and addressed whatever issue I reported.  But more people have to tell the city about our infrastructure problems.

In 2014 when the city’s precipitation rates reached high numbers, many basements on the east side of Midway flooded–even if they had a sump pump.

Some people claim that when it rains a lot, the city closes the sewers near Midway Airport to prevent the airport from flooding. Maybe Chicago Public Radio’s Curious City can find out if it’s true.

A couple of hours after I wrote this blog post, a reader shared information about the city’s “Rainblocker” program that slows the flow of rain water into the sewers.  With a $7.8 million grant from the Feds, Chicago installed restrictor valves after the 1997 rains that resulted in property damage to  35,000 residents.

But we got about half an inch of rain yesterday and less than a quarter inch today.  Why is there still so much water on the street?

And I wonder why so many basements on the east side of Midway flooded in 2014.

I also wonder: are other parts of the city–especially affluent neighborhoods like Lincoln Park or Beverly–also seeing giant puddles around sewers?

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Updated at 4:04 p.m. to include info about the Rainblocker program.

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