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Stormwater Management

Making stormwater a resource, rather than a nuisance

The issue: Stormwater is often a costly nuisance

Rain seems like a free resource, but more often it becomes a costly nuisance for communities and property owners when it overflows sewers, floods streets and ruins basements. More frequent and intense storms due to climate change will only exacerbate problems stemming from the region’s aging wet weather infrastructure and increasing amounts of impervious surfaces. While maintaining existing “grey” infrastructure—pipes and pumps—is vitally important, building new isn’t always the most cost-effective option. To best manage large volumes of rain, the Chicago region needs to repair outdated grey infrastructure, build new systems where appropriate and integrate approaches to “green” infrastructure—such as rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable paving—into building and property management practices.

The solution: Recognize stormwater as a resource

Solutions for managing wet weather will require multi-disciplinary approaches at various scales. Valuing rain water as an asset through the use of green infrastructure is one way to reduce the negative effects of poor stormwater management, such as flooding. MPC works with communities and policymakers to improve local investments, drive regional collaboration, develop useful tools and encourage residents and business owners to help by managing rain that falls on their property.

MPC adds value to community development and fiscal management by assisting municipalities with integrating both grey and green infrastructure into cost-effective stormwater management plans and implementing these strategies to manage rain where it falls. MPC also identifies and advocates for the most appropriate revenue streams to finance these capital investments. Through these efforts, MPC is helping the region lessen the negative effects of stormwater, improve returns on infrastructure investments and leverage the community development and water supply benefits of sound stormwater management practices.

The benefits: Solutions at every scale

Managing stormwater isn’t just a local challenge. Communities need more flexible state and federal resources to support innovative on-the-ground practices, as well as local property owners willing to be part of the solution. That’s why MPC is developing solutions at every scale.


Coordinated investments in grey and green infrastructure will increase options for communities to manage stormwater. MPC is working with the Ill. Environmental Protection Agency to prioritize both types of infrastructure investment through the State Revolving Loan Fund and the Ill. Green Infrastructure Grant program.


Building off our long history of developing best practices in interjurisdictional planning, MPC manages the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, which includes the key stakeholders controlling land, infrastructure, financing tools or regulatory powers related to stormwater on Chicago’s south side and in the southern suburbs of Cook County.


Because most land is privately owned, it is critical to engage private property owners in becoming part of the stormwater management solution, by installing green infrastructure to manage rainfall on their property. With a range of partners, MPC has been assisting Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and the south suburb of Blue Island with demonstration projects that are involving private property owners and showcasing how green infrastructure can help reduce flooding, and, if well designed, transform underutilized spaces into attractive community assets. MPC is also working with the Village of Lake Zurich to balance downtown redevelopment with stormwater concerns.

For more information

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
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Chicago, Ill. 60603
P 312 922 5616 F 312 922 5619
Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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