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Posted on: March 25, 2016

Lombard Public Works Launch “Underground Lombard – The Sewers that Serve”


When a sink turns on, or a toilet flushes, where does the water go? From houses, businesses, and rainstorms, sewers carry water many miles under our roads every day.

Lombard’s Public Works Department is inviting residents to find out more about the Village’s underground network of sewers, though a new online presentation at

Lombard’s Public Works employees and private contractors are responsible for the maintenance of 274 miles of sewers and 18 pump stations throughout the Village. Sanitary sewers take in used water from homes and businesses. That water then drains into a wastewater treatment plant where it is cleaned before it is discharged into local waterways. Storm sewers collect rainwater and then drain directly to waterways. Sanitary sewer maintenance activities include the underground video televising, flushing, lining, repairing, cutting tree roots, and removing FOG (fats, oils and grease). These ongoing activities help ensure that the sewer system will operate at capacity during heavy rain storms. Storm sewers are also video televised and repaired, and curbside catch basins are emptied of debris before it enters the sewers.

The influence that downstream, receiving waterways have on drainage may come as a surprise. When the East Branch DuPage River (west side of Lombard) and Sugar Creek (east side of Lombard) are full, they may cause water to back up into the sewers. With no ability to drain, water may rise in floodplains, even up into some neighborhoods, until these waterways recede again.

As is typical in municipal engineering, Lombard’s storm sewers are large enough to handle a 5 -10 year storm. During 100 year storm events, waterways may fill to capacity, and flooding may occur. Temporary street flooding that lasts a matter of an hour or two is usually due to sewers flowing at maximum capacity. This condition is known as surcharging. Blocked inlets may also contribute to temporary street flooding. Resizing sewers for a 100 year storm would be cost-prohibitive, as they are extreme events.

According to Lombard’s Assistant Director of Public Works, Dave Gorman, “We hope to provide a better understanding of the sewer systems that we rely on day-to-day, and work hard to maintain. When flooding occurs, we often hear rumors of a valve that was not open or a pump that wasn’t working but it’s actually just a matter of system capacity, whether the floodplains were full, the sewers were surcharged, or the rainfall so intense that inlets were backed up.”

The informational sewer presentation may be viewed at Please contact Lombard Public Works at (630)620-5740 with any questions.

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