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The story “New Thornton Quarry reservoir ‘like no place else in the world’” published in the Chronicle on June 16 took a look at the H-F area’s most notable geological feature and how it is being adapted to help prevent flooding in Chicago and the South Suburbs. Since then, the quarry has officially become a reservoir, although it doesn’t yet hold much water.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago is transforming the north lobe of the Thornton Quarry into a massive reservoir in an area that is one-half mile long by one-quarter mile wide by 350 feet deep. Following heavy storms, rainwater will be pumped into the quarry via a deep tunnel extending north to an MWRD treatment plant at 130th Street.
The Thornton Quarry is located just east of Homewood, bisected by I-80/94 east to State Street.

Now that it is operational, the reservoir will be able to hold billions of gallons of stormwater and sewage that otherwise might flood homes and basements after major rain events.
In September, MWRD officials and state and federal politicians gathered at the quarry for a ribbon-cutting marking the completion of the $429 million project.


Justin Brown, an MWRD public affairs specialist, told the H-F Chronicle work continued following the ribbon-cutting on the gigantic underground gates that will regulate the flow of water into the quarry. The iron gates are 25 feet high, two feet thick and located more than 300 feet below ground.

In mid-November, Brown said the quarry is now officially online and ready to take water.

“They’re still fine-tuning the gates but it is ready to fill if we get enough rain to fill the tunnel,” he said, adding that only time will tell when the reservoir will be used to its full capacity.

“It will require a pretty big rainstorm to fill the tunnel system completely and begin filling the reservoir,” Brown said. “Depending on weather, it’s possible that may not happen until the spring.”

This story originally was published in our first print edition Dec. 1

Related story:
New Thornton Quarry reservoir ‘like no place else’ in the world (HF Chronicle, May 28, 2015)

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