Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Schneider: Lake County residents, businesses are ‘underwater literally’ because of Foxconn development

From Chicago Tribune:

The owner of Libertyville-based Pizzeria Deville, John Durning, testifies Friday morning during a field hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business in Wheeling about the impacts of the July 2017 floods on his business. (Emily K. Coleman / Lake County News-Sun)

our to 6 inches of black water, tainted with grease and human waste, filled the basement kitchen and party room of Libertyville-based Pizzeria Deville.

It was July 12, 2017, the day after 7 inches of rainfall had swamped the area, and while owner John Durning said the initial cause was thought to be a freak storm combined with an ill-equipped sewer system, that was only part of the problem.

The other piece relates to new development in the area, and local, state and federal officials need to find ways to mitigate the impact of that development, Durning testified Friday morning during a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business.

"There has not been a major rain storm since that I have not sat awake in bed or driven directly to the restaurant to see if it's happening again," Durning said.

The hearing, held Friday morning at the Wheeling Village Hall, drew about 80 attendees and focused on downstream impacts from the Foxconn development just over the state line in Wisconsin, particularly on small businesses and how the federal government’s small business disaster assistance program can help them.

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, the only congressman in attendance, said local hearings are “relatively rare” but serve as a way to make sure “important voices” are heard from people who can’t afford, either the time or financially, to travel to Washington, D.C.

This year saw a new rainfall record set for the month of May, and rivers have topped their flood stage four times so far, Warner said.

The combination of increasing rain and more development means a higher risk of flooding, more severe flooding and poorer water quality, Warner added.

He said he’d like to see Wisconsin treat the Des Plaines River as its own watershed instead of as part of a more regional watershed, so that mitigation work related to roadway projects has downstream impacts.

Private development like Foxconn has been allowed to pay a fee instead of physically mitigating the impact of filled-in wetlands, according to Warner.

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