Thornton Reservoir will further improve quality of life in Chicago and southern Cook County | Black & Veatch

Thornton Reservoir will further improve quality of life in Chicago and southern Cook County

Black & Veatch leads design and implementation of significant components of project to reduce chronic storm water problems, improve upstream water quality

The Thornton Composite Reservoir,  known to Chicago residents as the “Grand Canyon of the South Suburbs,” will benefit the city’s south side and 13 nearby suburbs through improved storm water protection and water quality. Black & Veatch led planning, design and construction of significant components of the reservoir, which comes online by the end of the year.

U.S. Sen Dick Durbin, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders joined the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago to cut the ribbon on September 1, 2015 for the nearly $450 million facility.

Thornton Reservoir is a key component of the MWRD’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan known as TARP. It is one of the largest water infrastructure projects in the world. TARP is designed to protect Lake Michigan, the region’s primary source of drinking water. It will also protect against combined sewer overflows (CSOs) as well as overland and basement flooding.

Black & Veatch performed heavy infrastructure tunneling and engineering at Thornton. The company contributed innovations in grouting practices in the design and construction of the reservoir.

TARP has significantly improved the quality of life for people living and working in the City and Cook County. Previously, sewage-laced floodwater often inundated residential properties after heavy rains. Additionally, moving that water to the reservoir will lessen the need to release sewage into Lake Michigan when rains overwhelm the area’s storm sewers. Thornton Reservoir will provide an additional 7.9 billion gallons of storage for capture and treatment of CSOs and floodwaters.

“In past years, that polluted, untreated water would enter our waterways or worse, our basements,” said MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos. “Because of TARP, combined sewer overflows have been drastically reduced, and the addition of Thornton will again lead to more water quality improvements upstream.”

As part of the TARP initiative, Black & Veatch is also providing engineering and construction services for the McCook Reservoir. McCook will ultimately provide 10 billion gallons of additional CSO and floodwater storage when commissioned in two stages in 2017 and 2029.

“Other cities beset by chronic combined sewer overflows and flooding will look to this system as a model. We are proud to take part in helping the MWRD provide this vital water quality and flood protection to and for the people in and around Chicago.”

Mike Orth, Executive Managing Director for the Americas in Black & Veatch’s water business

Editor’s Notes:

  • Grouting included drilling of over 150 miles of 4-inch diameter boreholes -- some over 500 feet deep -- followed by controlled injection of cement mixes into surrounding rock to seal off potential leaks in the reservoir.
  • Solar powered mixers will be deployed to keep reservoir surface layer aerated to minimize potential odor concerns.

Media Contact Information:

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About Black & Veatch

Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries through consulting, engineering, construction, operations and program management. Our revenues in 2018 were US$3.5 billion. Follow us on social media.

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