MUNSTER | Town officials recently ratified an agreement with Lansing to recommend ways to strengthen and raise the levee along the Little Calumet River.
Officials want to ensure there will never be a repeat of the flood that devastated a large area of Munster near the river in 2008.
The agreement, already approved by Lansing, allows Munster to study water flow points in the vicinity of the state line and Little Calumet and make appropriate recommendations suitable for both municipalities.
Munster and Lansing have levees at 601 and 598 feet mean sea level, respectively, as a result of the $250 million Little Calumet River Flood Control Project. However, there is a need for a tie-back system between the towns' levees.
A tie-back levee is a way to prevent water from overflowing around the end of a levee and floodwalls. Tie-back levees characteristically extend from the main levee along a river, lake, or coast to a bluff line (high ground).
If water rises above 598 feet, it will spill over the Lansing levee and flood the area north of Interstate 80/94 west of the Illinois-Indiana state line. Storm sewers could then back up under the expressway and top manhole structures, reaching the Burnham Avenue underpass. Lansing neighborhoods south of I-80/94 would then flood.
Burnham is at an elevation that could permit floodwaters to cross to the south. They could then travel east over the state line and flood homes in Munster north of Broadmoor, from State Line Avenue to Manor Drive.
Munster Town Engineer Jim Mandon told council members he is concerned about three storm sewers beneath the Borman Expressway and connecting to River Drive. He encouraged town officials to consider installing a back-flow prevention system to mitigate water flow during a significant storm event.
Alternately, Munster could erect a system of inflatable bladders along State Line Avenue to protect the town. The need for a significant amount of manpower, as well as the cost, have town officials looking for other alternatives for now.
Dan Repay, executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission, told town officials he hoped his agency can work cooperatively with Munster to determine and execute the best course of action. Similarly, the commission worked with Hammond and Calumet City on a similar levee project, he said.
Munster Town Council President John Reed said he would be sure to keep the lines of communication open as Munster studies the matter.