Tunnel and Reservoir Plan

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The Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (abbreviated TARP and more commonly known as the Deep Tunnel Project or the Chicago Deep Tunnel) is a large civil engineering project that aims to reduce flooding in the metropolitan Chicago area, and to reduce the harmful effects of flushing raw sewage into Lake Michigan by diverting storm water and sewage into temporary holding reservoirs. The megaproject is one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in terms of scope, cost and timeframe. Commissioned in the mid-1970s, the project is managed by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Completion of the system is not anticipated until 2029, [1] but substantial portions of the system have already opened and are currently operational. Across 30 years of construction, over $3 billion has been spent on the project. [2]

Civil engineering engineering discipline that deals with construction

Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewerage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings, and railways. Civil engineering is traditionally broken into a number of sub-disciplines. It is considered the second-oldest engineering discipline after military engineering, and it is defined to distinguish non-military engineering from military engineering. Civil engineering takes place in the public sector from municipal through to national governments, and in the private sector from individual homeowners through to international companies.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States; the fifth largest in North America ; and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Sewage Wastewater that is produced by a community of people

Sewage is a type of wastewater that is produced by a community of people. It is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical and toxic constituents, and its bacteriologic status. It consists mostly of greywater, blackwater ; soaps and detergents; and toilet paper.

Contents

History

19th century

The Deep Tunnel Project is the latest in a series of civil engineering projects dating back to 1834. Many of the problems experienced by the city of Chicago are directly related to its low level topography and the fact that the city is largely built upon marsh or wet prairie. This combined with a temperate wet climate and the human development of open land leads to substantial water runoff. Lake Michigan was ineffective in carrying sewage away from the city, and in the event of a rainstorm, the water pumps that provided drinking water to Chicagoans became contaminated with sewage. Though no epidemics were caused by this system (see Chicago 1885 cholera epidemic myth), it soon became clear that the sewage system needed to be diverted to flow away from Lake Michigan in order to handle an increasing population's sanitation needs. [ dubious ]

Lake Michigan one of the Great Lakes of North America

Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. The other four Great Lakes are shared by the U.S. and Canada. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. To the east, its basin is conjoined with that of Lake Huron through the wide Straits of Mackinac, giving it the same surface elevation as its easterly counterpart; the two are technically a single lake.

The Chicago 1885 cholera epidemic myth is a persistent urban legend, stating that 90,000 people in Chicago died of typhoid fever and cholera in 1885. Although the story is widely reported, these deaths did not occur.

Begun in 1836, and completed in 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was built, diverting some sewage water from the Chicago River. In 1900, to improve general health standards, the flow of the main branch of the Chicago River was reversed to drain water from Lake Michigan, as opposed to having the river flow into Lake Michigan. This further improved the sanitation of Lake Michigan, and helped to prevent further waterborne epidemic scares.

Illinois and Michigan Canal canal

The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. In Illinois, it ran 96 miles (154 km) from the Chicago River in Bridgeport, Chicago to the Illinois River at LaSalle-Peru. The canal crossed the Chicago Portage, and helped establish Chicago as the transportation hub of the United States, before the railroad era. It was opened in 1848. Its function was largely replaced by the wider and shorter Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900, and it ceased transportation operations with the completion of the Illinois Waterway in 1933.

Between 1864 and 1867, under the leadership of Ellis S. Chesbrough, the city built the two-mile Chicago lake tunnel to a new water intake location further from the shore. Crews began from the intake location and the shore, tunneling in two shifts a day. Clay and earth were drawn away by mule-drawn railcars. Masons lined the five-foot-diameter tunnel with two layers of brick. The lake and shore crews met in November 1866, less than seven inches out of alignment. A second tunnel was added in 1874. [3]

Ellis Sylvester Chesbrough (1813–1886) was an engineer credited with the design of the Chicago sewer system, which are sometimes known as the 'Chesbrough sewers'. This was the first comprehensive sewer system in the United States. He is responsible for the plan to raise Chicago, construction of the first water crib in Chicago, and designing the Boston water distribution system. The water system he designed for Chicago is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a Historical Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Chicago Lake Tunnel was the first of several tunnels built from the city of Chicago's shore on Lake Michigan two miles out into the lake to access the fresh unpolluted fresh water far from the city's sewage.

20th century

The construction of the Sanitary and Ship Canal (1892–1900), enlargements to the North Shore Channel (1907–1910), the construction of the Cal-Sag Channel (1911–1922) and the construction of locks at the mouth of the Chicago River (1933–1938) brought further improvements to the sanitary issues of the time. These projects blocked further amounts of sewage from draining into Lake Michigan. The projects also brought fresh lake water to inland waterways to further dilute sewage that was already in the waterways.

North Shore Channel Drainage canal in Illinois, US

The North Shore Channel is a drainage canal built between 1907 and 1910 to flush the sewage-filled North Branch of the Chicago River down the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The sewage carrying duty has been largely taken over by the Chicago Deep Tunnel, but there are still occasional discharges due to heavy rains.

Surrounding farmland also engaged in flood control projects. The Illinois Farm Drainage Act of 1879 established drainage districts. These districts were generally named for the basin they drained—for example, the Fox River Drainage District. After World War II, suburban communities began to realize the benefits of separating stormwater from sewage water and began to construct separate sewer and storm drainage lines. The primary benefit of wastestream separation is that storm water requires less treatment than sewage before being returned to the environment.

Drainage districts occur in England and Wales, varying in size from a few hundred acres to over 100,000 acres (400 km2), all in low-lying areas of the country where flood risk management and land drainage are sensitive issues. Most drainage districts are administered by an internal drainage board (IDB), which are single purpose local drainage authorities, dealing with the drainage and water level management of clean water only. Each drainage district has a defined area, and the IDB only has powers to deal with matters affecting that area.

Fox River (Illinois River tributary) tributary of the Illinois River

The Fox River is a 202-mile-long (325 km) tributary of the Illinois River, flowing from southeastern Wisconsin to Ottawa, Illinois in the United States. The Wisconsin section was known as the Pishtaka River in the 19th century. There are two other "Fox Rivers" in southern Illinois: the Fox River and a smaller "Fox River" that joins the Wabash River near New Harmony, Indiana.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Flood damage grew markedly after 1938, when surrounding natural drainage areas were lost to development and human activity. Serious flooding has occurred in the Chicago metropolitan area in the years 1849, 1855, 1885, 1938, 1952, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1973, 1979, 1986, 1987, 1996, 2007 and 2008—but most record-setting crests have been set after 1948.

In the 1960s, the concept of Deep Tunnel was studied and recommended as a solution to continuing flooding issues.

Status

Phase 1, the creation of 109.4 miles (176.1 km) of drainage tunnels ranging from 9 to 33 feet (2.7 to 10.1 m) in diameter, up to 350 feet (110 m) underground, was adopted in 1972, commenced in 1975, and completed and operational by 2006. Phase 2, reservoirs primarily intended for flood control, remains underway with an expected completion date of 2029. Currently, up to 2.3 billion US gallons (8.7×10^9 l) of sewage can be stored and held in the tunnels themselves while awaiting processing at sewage treatment plants, which release treated water into the Calumet and Des Plaines rivers.

Additional sewage is stored at the 7.9-billion-US-gallon (30×10^9 l) Thornton Composite Reservoir, and the 350-million-US-gallon (1,300×10^6 l) Gloria Alitto Majewski Reservoir near O'Hare International Airport. The 3.5-billion-US-gallon (13×10^9 l) McCook Reservoir was completed in 2017 and will be expanded to 10 billion US gallons (38×10^9 l) by 2029. [4] [5] Because the reservoirs are decommissioned quarries, construction has been delayed by decreased demand for the quarried gravel. Upon completion, the TARP system will have a capacity of 17.5 billion US gallons (66×10^9 l) of storage.

Effects

Severe weather events have forced water management agencies to pump excess wastewater into the lake and river in order to prevent flooding. These incidents have decreased in frequency as more of the Deep Tunnel system has become operational. Long considered an open sewer, the Chicago River now hosts more than 50 species of fish and increased wildlife along its shores. Substantial development is occurring along many portions of the riverfront. Canoeing is once again allowed on the waterway, but swimming is still prohibited due to high pollution levels.

On October 3, 1986, a heavy thunderstorm drenched the southern portion of the Deep Tunnel area with several inches of rain in a short period of time. While the Deep Tunnel system performed satisfactorily by absorbing excess water, water within the system itself rushed past the north side of Chicago and near the Bahá'í Temple in Wilmette. Geysers of over 65 feet (20 m) were reported in both locations for up to an hour as the water was redistributed more evenly through the system. A 30 ft (9 m) geyser erupted downtown at the corner of Jefferson and Monroe. [6] A system of watertight bulkheads has since been installed to prevent the event from occurring again.

During the Chicago Flood of 1992, the water from the Chicago River that leaked into the long-disused underground freight tunnel system was eventually drained into the Deep Tunnel network, which itself was still under construction.

Sources

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Calumet River river in the United States of America

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Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal

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Des Plaines River tributary of the Illinois River

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References

  1. Lydersen, Kari (2011-05-17). "Chicago River on National Endangered List". Chicago News Cooperative. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  2. Sanders, Steve (2005-10-10). "WGN-TV CoverStories: Deep Tunnel". WGN-TV. Archived from the original on 2005-11-05. Retrieved 2005-12-23.
  3. Chicago Department of Public Works. Chicago Public Works: A History. 1973.
  4. Hawthorne, Michael (December 4, 2017). "McCook Reservoir to open soon, holding sewage and runoff until storms pass". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  5. "McCook Reservoir to Greatly Boost Flood Storage Capacity". Tunnel Business Magazine. January 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  6. Karwath, Rob (1986-10-17). "Tunnel's Geyser Effect Still Puzzling". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-07-04.