Palatine is hiring an engineering firm to evaluate whether Margreth Reimer Reservoir's operations could be modified to improve flood mitigation.
The first phase of the engineering work will cost about $10,000. Palatine Engineer Mike Danecki said that when the reservoir first was designed, it was meant to store water during a 100-year storm event.
Village officials said that during most storm events – 90 percent to 95 percent – the reservoir will not store water. "The question came up with new technology, why could the basin not be operated to be more flexible," Danecki said.
The reservoir is owned and operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
"The district has concerns, they'd like to keep the [operation] passive. That way if something goes wrong then they can say, 'hey it's nature.' [Otherwise] somebody could come back and say you operated it incorrectly or you made the wrong decision," Danecki said.
He said that although the MWRD would prefer leaving the operation of the reservoir as is, they are willing to look at the study. Danecki said the engineering study will examine the benefit to people downstream if the reservoir operated differently.
The reservoir is part of the Upper Salt Creek watershed.
The study also will look at whether using the reservoir for lesser storms could compromsie its ability to handle a 100-year storm event.
District 2 Council member Scott Lamerand said the reservoir has a 186 million gallon capacity, adding that it does not fill up while people down stream have their streets and homes take on water during some storms.
Village staff noted that in 1987 during a 100-year storm event, the reservoir did not store much water. However, in 2008, the reservoir filled to capacity during a storm and began overflowing.
Village officials will have to convince the MWRD that any proposed changes in operation could work without creating problems.
Lamerand said among the concerns MWRD has is "who's going to play God in determining whether the water backs up, up stream or downstream of the reservoir. This study will basically do a job to determine that that does not have to happen. We can use the reservoir in a more effective [way]."