Rain, melting snow cause minor flooding

By Michael Berg

The spring melt has sent the Kishwaukee River spilling over its banks, but no major problems are expected.

“We are aware of the raise in the river from spring melt,” said Roger Chilton, assistant director of DeKalb Public Works for Operation and Maintenance. “At present, which is noon (Wednesday), the river crested and is receding.”

The river is outside its banks in areas not protected by the levee system, Chilton said.

“There are minor areas of flooding in the south side of DeKalb,” he said. From Taylor Street south to Susan Court there is some flooding, Chilton said.

A levee is a long mound of earth to stop river water from spreading. The system in DeKalb protects areas north of Lincoln Highway and Hopkins Park, Chilton said.

Because of the unique nature of the Kishwaukee River, melt-off water from the south must flow through DeKalb. “The Kish is one of the few rivers in North America that flows north,” Chilton said.

The watershed, which is the area drained by the river, runs about eight miles south of DeKalb to the Waterman-Hinkley area. “All the water in the watershed that flows into the Kish has to flow through the city,” Chilton said.

Unless there is rain in the next few days, there will be no major problem with flooding. “We do not foresee any problem unless there’s a change in the forecast,” Chilton said.

According to the National Weather Service in Rockford, no precipitation is expected from today through Sunday.

“We have monitored the river for about 36 hours or so, and we don’t foresee any major problems,” Chilton said.

“Until all the spring meltwater drains away, we will have high water,” he said.

A project to lower the water level of the river and help it maintain its floodwater carrying capacity began in 1983. The fourth stage of the project began in January of 1991, when sediment was dredged from the sides and bottom of the river.

A major flood in 1983 led to the project, after levees constructed in the 1950’s eroded.