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Bloomington eyes use of federal COVID funds for future flood control

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BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) - Some Bloomington aldermen are recommending using some of the millions of dollars the city is receiving in federal COVID-19 aid to upgrade aging sewer systems that made flooding even worse following historically heavy rainfall last month.

The city council discussed the flooding at a committee-of-the-whole meeting Monday night, part of what city leaders pledge will be ongoing discussions in the coming weeks to come up with solutions.

"Our residents deserve better, and I'm not pointing fingers at any specific person because, as we've already heard, these issues have been going on for decades," said Ward 7 council member Mollie Ward.

Some city residents and council members said they don't want to wait until the end of this decade to finish a multi-phase project to eliminate combined sewer and storm water overflow, which caused contaminated water to pour into basements.

Cost of separating sewer and storm water systems is estimated at about $14 million for the area around Locust Street and Colton Avenue, and it would be completed in 2029. Ward 9 Alderman Tom Crumpler called on spending American Rescue Plan dollars given to local governments because of financial losses tied to COVID-19.

"To accelerate replacement of these outdated and inadequate sewer systems in neighborhoods that have been devastated by these floods, and I think not to do this is simply unacceptable," Crumpler said.

The city is expected to receive $13 million from the federal program, according to news release earlier this month from U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

Howard Packowitz

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