With temperatures soaring above freezing in Chicago, the “big melt” is well underway. Because the ground is frozen, as the snowpack shrinks, all that water runoff is headed for the city’s sewers, increasing the risk for flooding.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has prepared for the influx by lowering water levels in the Chicago Area Waterway System to accommodate runoff, but is asking residents to do their part by conserving water elsewhere.
“Please help us prepare for the rapid snow melt by using less water at home to make sure there’s space in our local sewer lines for the water and melted snow to get to the MWRD, instead of unwanted places,” MWRD President Kari Steele said in a statement.
That means postponing activities like laundry, running the dishwasher or even showering, which will provide maximum capacity in the sewers.
Residents can also pitch in by digging out storm drains potentially buried under snow or ice. (Google Street View can be helpful in locating drains.)
MWRD is also advising people to proactively remove valuables from basement floors if their home or surrounding area is prone to flooding.
One bit of good news, at least for the sewer system, is that colder nighttime temperatures will limit rapid melting, according to the National Weather Service.