Council, City look to address Geneseo Creek flooding

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic

Geneseo Creek enters town from the south, casually meandering it's way north towards the Green River. It skirts the east end of Richmond Hill Park, and parallels the business district along Rt 82, or South Oakwood St., providing ambiance to the various neighborhoods and businesses. That is until torrential rains, as are common in the spring of the year, occur. Then this lazy body of water tends to overflow it's banks and wreak havoc on everything in it's path.

This is actually nothing new. File photos from the Republic show evidence of massive flooding from this diminutive body of water. Even today, with more paved surfaces, guttering, and field tiles, the flow of water in heavy rains tend to overwhelm this creek in it's efforts to empty out into the Green River, causing extensive flooding in the South Geneseo area.

Ward 4 Alderman, Doug Crow and Ward 3 Alderman, Keith Kennett, with Public Works Director, Chad VanDeWoestyne and other members of the Geneseo City Council, have decided to make this a focal point of the next phase of the City's capital improvement plan.

VanDeWoestyne explained that the City has long term plans for capital improvements. He feels that at this time, it is necessary to go forward with the flooding abatement plans. “The most recent capital improvement, the upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, were in the planning stages exactly three years ago this month. It is not a quick process.” Studies will need to be commissioned, permits obtained from various entities, then contracts let out for bid.

At a recent Committee of the Whole meeting, a study was recommended to the City Council for approval. Greg Ryckaert of IMEG Engineering Consultants will be doing the study. The study will look at the changes in topography of the affected area, and make recommendations. Ryckaert has been in touch with the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the IDNR, and commented that “the initial contacts were positive, and we will be moving forward with the project.”

In 1971, the City decided to commission a study on how to manage the flow of flood waters. Although, no one knows why it was never acted on, it has been turned over to IMEG for the historical value that the study contains. The new study from IMEG is in the works. Input from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois Environmental Protection Association, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will need to be considered in the potential solutions. Possible solutions may include, but not limited to, berms, flood walls, clearing of brush from the creek, and/or water retention ponds.

Mayor Sean Johnson, when asked for his opinion on the matter, stated that “the sooner the water gets to the Green River, the fewer issues we will have with Geneseo Creek flooding.” Asked about how this fit into the overall plan for capital improvements, he was quick to commend City Public Works Director, VanDeWoestyne, stating that “This is part of a 7 year capital improvement program, and has been built into each year's budget. Chad started with the Park District and worked his way up. You can't replace in the trench experience.”

Geneseo Creek has a history of adversely affecting residents as is evidence in this circa 1925 photo.
A .local business situated along the area where Rt. 82 floods during torrential rains.