Village of Arlington Heights

Flood Control


Flood Control: The Big Picture

Storm sewers, detention/retention basins, reservoirs, wetlands, and creeks are all part of the network of natural and man-made facilities designed to hold rainwater and carry it away from developed areas. Each component is dependent upon the others, yet each plays its own vital and unique role in the overall flood control plan.

Storm Sewers

Storm sewersare designed to carry rainwater runoff from developed areas to the creek system. When the volume of water runoff exceeds the capacity of the storm sewer, the excess water is diverted to a nearby detention/retention basin. These basins act as a temporary storage area for the excessive amount of storm water which enters the system during a particularly heavy rainstorm.


Creeks provide open channels where large amounts of storm runoff can be accommodated and moved along a natural path. When the volume of runoff exceeds the creek's capacity, the excess is diverted to reservoirs.

Reservoirs not only store the excess runoff but, more importantly, they limit the downstream flow of creeks, thereby reducing the risk of flooding.
The creeks, storm sewers, reservoirs, detention/retention basinsall work together to reduce the risk of flooding. One system provides a "backup" for the other when heavy, prolonged rainfall might otherwise cause serious flooding problems in developed areas.

New Developments
People often mistakenly assume that new residential or commercial developments will increase the risk of flooding. In fact, the reverse is often true. Federal law prohibits disturbing wetlands which play a vital role in flood control, and Village regulations require carefully-designed flood control measure (storm sewers, detention/retention basins, and reservoirs) to properly handle storm water runoff. In many cases, flooding is less of a concern after the property is developed and the appropriate flood control measures and improvements are implemented.

Maintenance: Keeping a Good Thing Going
The Department of Public Works carefully maintains all components of the flood control programs to assure that the entire system works efficiently and effectively. The ongoing maintenance program includes:
Annual inspection and cleaning
Brush and tree removal
Installation of erosion control
Repair and clearing of storm sewer outlets


Iinspection and cleaning
Repair of sewer mains, inlets, catch basins, and manholes
Installation of additional sewers in areas experiencing drainage problems

Detention/Retention Basins
Annual inspection
Cleaning and repair of control structures

Annual inspection
Cleaning and repair of control structures
It should be noted that not all stormwater deterntion basins or reservoirs located in the Village are publicly maintained. If you have a question about maintenance responsibility for a basin or reservoir, call Public Works at 847.368.5800

Your Cooperation: A Vital Part of the Success of the Program.
There are a number of things you can do - and not do - to keep the flood control system working:
  • Do not dispose of grass clippings or brush on creek banks. These yardwaste materials are not only unsightly, they damage bank vegetation, thereby causing erosion as well as working their way into the creek and obstructing the flow of water.
  • Help keep storm sewer inlets free of obstructions. If you see leaves, paper, branches, or ice obstructing an inlet, please remove the items so that the storm water runoff from the street can flow unobstructed.
  • Call the Department of Public Works to report any sudden ground settlement. Sudden settlement may indicate a collapsed sewer or other problem which needs to be corrected.
  • Never dump yardwaste such as grass clippings, leaves, or brush into a detention/retention basin.
  • Remove debris in the street or creek bank to keep it from working its way into the creek or storm sewer system.
If you observe a problem or have a question which we can answer, please call us. Working together, we can keep the Village of Arlington Heights flood control system working at peak efficiency for the benefit of all.

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