River Oaks Storm Sewers - June 12, 2019

Report on Meeting with City Council

On Monday June 10th a number of River Oaks homeowners attended the City Council's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee of the Whole meeting in order to be part of the discussion of the River Oaks storm sewer problems. The attendance of River Oaks homeowners was excellent and we thank all of you who were there. We also would like to thank those who wrote to the City Council in advance of the meeting to advocate for help with the storm sewers.

The meeting began with a presentation by Phil Kuchler, the Deputy Director of Public Works, of the City's view of the storm sewer system in River Oaks. As part of this presentation, Mr. Kuchler included a color-coded map of what parts of the storm sewer system the City claims that they own and what part of the system the City claims that the homeowners own.

In the map of River Oaks above, the storm sewers marked in Red are those that the City is claiming that River Oaks owns. The storm sewers marked in Blue are the storm sewers that the City is laying claim to. Mr. Kuchler explained that the Red storm sewer between Lots 63 and 64, and the one behind Lots 3 through 8, begin their run at drains that take in storm waters from homeowners' back yards and take in no water from City right-of-ways. When the storm sewer drains are in the streets and take in street water, then the City owns those sections of the sewers. The City believes that the Red pipe under the Common Area out to the river is owned by the homeowners because in the Declaration of Covenants and Easements in River Oaks, the Common Area as owned by the homeowners includes "storm-water retention and detention facilities, and related equipment and drainage pipe if any". The pipe labled with the Green X is the pipe with the sinkholes above it.

After Mr. Kuchler presented his comments, almost a dozen River Oaks residents spoke about the situation. A main point was that the City of Warrenville owns the storm sewers in River Oaks and needs to take care of them. It was also noted that the homeowners in River Oaks have worked with the City in many ways for the past 30 years and that we hope we can continue to work through these problems constructively. Some other points raised included:

• When the drains in the Common Area are clogged, this becomes a public safety hazard
• For 30 years the City has taken care of the complete storm sewer system in River Oaks, including all Common Area pipes
• The storm sewer system in River Oaks is inundated with off-site storm waters from the Rt. 59 and Batavia Road area.
• To accommodate the offsite water, the City increased run-off between Lots 39 and 40 directly into the river, rendering the Lower Common Area there unusable.
• During heavy rains, the drain behind Lot 60, which funnels the offsite water into River Oaks, overflows and sends water directly into adjacent yards and creates a flooding potential for these homes.

After River Oaks made its comments, members of the City Council responded. Aldermen Goodman, Bevier, Davolos and Aschauer all asked questions of Public Works regarding the situation of detention ponds in Warrenville. Public Works admitted that no regular check on the condition of the pipes in River Oaks has been done. The City Administrator John Coakley said that there are about 100 detention/retention ponds in Warrenville, and that many private homes have storm water drains on their private property which they have to maintain. He said that it was not feasible for the City to assume custody of of the ponds or drains on private property. Aldermen Goodman and Bevier discussed if the Private Property Drainage Assistance program should be extendable to the River Oaks situation. Alderman Goodman asked that Public Works work at better communications with River Oaks in the future. Alderman Aschauer asked that the drains up-sewer from River Oaks be inspected to see if any restrictors have been removed which would affect the volumne of water being sent into River Oaks. Mayor Brummel did warn River Oaks that although they would like to help, it is not possible to extend help whenever it might be asked for due to limited funds. The Chair of the Meeting, Alderman Barry (alderman from the 4th Ward, which is the ward River Oaks is in) spoke last. She said that she would vote against any motion to have the City assume responsibility for all of the storm sewers in River Oaks. She explained that as a 40 year resident of Emerald Green, she and her fellow residents each had to pay a special assessment of $700 in 1988 for the City to take over all the public utilities (roads, lights, streets and sewers). When Emerald Green was built, these were not built to code and were originally owned by their HOA. She also pointed out that if something benefits the subdivision, whoever owns it, then the subdivision needs to handle the maintenance and to increase dues regularly in order to act in a responsible manner when these problems arise.

The meeting concluded with requests by the City Council for more information on the situation from Public Works about this storm sewer system. Because Public Works says that the City does own some of the sewer pipes in River Oaks, including the one with the sinkholes, they will be coming out to survey those pipes. Since the recent Memorial Day flood caused by the blockage of one of these pipes by three roots, they will also evaluate lining the pipe to keep it free of roots again. They will also be checking the condition of the storm drains and restrictors from the Rt. 59 and Batavia areas that drain into River Oaks. Any further discussions and motions were postponed for the time being.